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Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Opening Brief in American Needle v. NFL Set for Friday

For those who have been following the Supreme Court case American Needle v. NFL, this Friday clothing manufacturer American Needle Inc. will file its opening brief, arguing that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals was wrong to define the NFL as a single-entity under Section 1 of the Sherman Act.

As many of you know, I have long agreed with American Needle's view that the NFL should be treated as a collection of 32 separate clubs, and not as a single entity. To me, this issue was best resolved by the Second Circuit back in the 1982 case North American Soccer League v. Nat'l Football League, in which it held "the sound and more just procedure is to judge the legality of [sports league] restraints according to well-recognized standards of our antitrust laws rather than permit their exemption."

Michael McCann seems to share my view as well, based on the contents of his forthcoming law review article.

Currently, the Second Circuit's view remains in the overwhelming majority, as seven previous courts have upheld this view and rejected the NFL clubs' single-entity argument. The Seventh Circuit meanwhile remains alone in its iconoclastic position that single-entity status should be determined one league at a time, one function at a time.


Thanks for the update guys, but does everything on this blog have to be a plug for your latest paper? It seems as though it's getting that way more and more over time

Anonymous Anonymous -- 9/18/2009 9:03 AM  


I agree with you. I do not see how the Supreme Court can equate the NFL as a single entity. Copperweld's facts are sufficiently different and all sports leagues have a confederation quality, rather than a unitary one. While the intellectual property issue does come close, it does not make it to single entity status. We'll see what happens.

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