June 4, 2010 / Law Alert

U.S. Supreme Court Reverses Seventh Circuit Decision — Refuses to Treat NFL as a Single Business Entity

In a unanimous decision, the United States Supreme Court rejected the National Football League’s (“NFL”) argument that it should be accorded antitrust protection as a single business entity with respect to its licensing of intellectual property, rather than as the concerted action or conspiracy of 32 member teams. American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League, No. 08-661, slip op. (Sup. Ct. 2010) (“American Needle”). The Court reversed the Seventh Circuit’s decision, which held that the NFL’s exclusive licensing agreement with Reebok International Ltd. (“Reebok”) did not violate the antitrust laws because the NFL was a single entity and, as such, could not be treated as a conspiracy of, or concerted action by, its 32 member teams. American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League, 538 F.3d 736 (7th Cir. 2008).