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American Needle v. NFL and sports' antitrust implications




Oral arguments in American Needle v. NFL were/will be heard by the US Supreme Court today. The basic facts of the case are that American Needle challenged NFL's rights to enter into an exclusive, licensed-apparel contract with Reebok. American Needle claimed this was an antitrust violation since, basically, the NFL is not one entity but 32 separate teams. The 7th Circuit agreed with the NFL.  American Needle appealed to the Supreme Court.  The interesting thing is the NFL also appealed the ruling and is seeking a broader decision holding the NFL isn't subject to the Sherman Act and has antitrust exemption.

The reason I'm bringing this up on a baseball blog is I'm sure the precedence relied upon by the NFL is MLB and MLB's exemption from antitrust legislation could be at risk. Losing antitrust, among other things, would allow teams to more freely move from city to city. No one is expecting this to affect baseball but there is that possibility.

Drew Brees did an op/ed piece on the case (last link) and I added a couple other links discussing the case.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gabriel-a-feldman/american-needle-and-the-n_b_409532.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/07/sports/football/07needle.html

http://www.walkoffwalk.com/2010/01/american-needle-and-the-americ.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/07/AR2010010702947.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

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