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Supreme Court to Decide Whether the NFL Licensing Agreement Violates Antitrust Laws

nfl1The Supreme Court of the United States has decided to take on the case of American Needle v. National Football League which is scheduled to be heard later this year or in early 2010.

The case will have a significant impact on all sports leagues and will determine whether the NFL is acting as a single entity or 32 different businesses when negotiating licensing agreements or other contracts on behalf of NFL franchises.  The case arose after the NFL signed an exclusive apparel contract to Reebok International Ltd in 2001.  American Needle was one of many firms who manufactured head gear for some NFL teams prior to 2001, and they argue that the the NFL is breaching antitrust laws by dealing with only one company in outfitting teams.  The NFL seeks to end antitrust law suites against  them in the future by arguing the NFL is acting as a single entity when entering into contracts on behalf of NFL franchises.

This case will have a significant impact on all sports leagues going forward.  If the NFL wins, it will not have to fear being suied for antitrust lawsuits in the future which could significantly impact how all sports leagues conduct business.

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