NFL Teams Sports Law

Supreme Court Grants Cert For American Needle

In February, we told you that the U.S. Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General’s Office to comment on the Cert Request for the case of American Needle Inc. v. National Football League (2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 17553).  The Solicitor General’s comment read: “Don’t grant cert” – in many more words.

Just three months later, and the Supremes have granted cert (they will review the case).  The Court will decide whether the NFL is immune from Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act for the licensing of intellectual property (things like using the team trademarks on apparel sales).  Are the NFL and its member teams a single entity or do all teams act in a joint venture (similar to a partnership)?  The NFL wants the Supremes to hold that the teams and the NFL as a whole, is a single entity for all purposes and exempt from Section 1, not just in the licensing of intellectual property.  American Needle wants the Court to hold that the teams do not act as a single entity, and should not be restrained from trade under Section 1 of the Antitrust Act.

For a great preview of the upcoming case: American Needle Cert Granted – Some Initial Thoughts

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

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