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Suburban Chicago Company Fights The NFL And Wins

The Sun Times is reporting today that the Supreme Court handed down its decision in American Needle v. Natl’ Football League. The Court ruled that the 32 teams of the NFL do not comprise a single entity and are not exempt from the Sherman antitrust act.

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The case was based upon the NFL teams granting exclusive license to Reebok, a competitor to American Needle (based in Buffalo Grove), to manufacture apparel. Now that it has been determined that the NFL must abide by the Sherman Act, the case has been sent back to the federal court in the Northern District of Illinois for further ruling on whether its grant of a license to Reebok was in fact anticompetitive.

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American Needle may still find itself shut out of the NFL apparel market if its judged that the grant of the license to Reebok was within the law. However, the implications of this case are far reaching. Unlike with the MLB, which has a limited antitrust exemption, decisions made on a league wide basis in the NFL will now be able to be challenged on their merits as anticompetitive in federal court. Whether we will see further law suits remains to be seen, but today is certainly an interesting day in sports law.

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(via The Sun Times and Above The Law)