24 May 2010

High Court Rules 9-0 against NFL in Antitrust Case

From ESPN:
The Supreme Court rejected the National Football League's request for broad antitrust law protection Monday, saying that it must be considered 32 separate teams -- not one big business -- when selling branded items like jerseys and caps.
While the narrow scope of American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League focused only on the NFL's right to block American Needle's access to sponsorship agreements, the league had hoped to broaden the scope of the case to shield itself from other antitrust claims.

The NFL had argued that, since the teams cannot exist separately from the league, that the league is therefore a single entity like a corporation. If successful, the NFL would have increased its control over the thirty-two teams. reduced its exposure to collective bargaining, and shut out competition from other professional football leagues in the United States.
"A nut and a bolt can only operate together, but an agreement between nut and bolt manufacturers is still subject to" antitrust scrutiny, [Supreme Court Justice John Paul] Stevens said.
Currently, only Major League Baseball enjoys blanket protection against antitrust complaints, stemming from its victory in Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore, Inc. v. National Baseball and reasserted in Toolson v. New York Yankees, Inc.

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