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NFL Antitrust Suit Headed to Supreme Court

In a suit brought on by American Needle Inc., the Supreme Court will hear a case as to whether the NFL is one entity or 32 separate entities that can each make their own licensing deals.
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The Supreme Court will hear an appeal from American Needle Inc., of Buffalo Grove, Ill., which filed an antitrust lawsuit to an agreement the NFL struck with Reebok International Ltd. American Needle manufactured NFL headwear until the NFL granted an exclusive contract to Reebok in 2001.

The NFL won the case in the federal appeals court in Chicago, but it also asked the Supreme Court to hear the case in hopes of getting a more sweeping decision that could put an end to what the NFL considers costly, frivolous antitrust lawsuits, according to the associated press.

In the AP article, it says, “The central question is whether the league is essentially a ‘single entity’ that can act collectively, as the NFL argues, or 32 distinct businesses that must be careful about running afoul of antitrust laws.”

Major League Baseball has an antitrust exemption dating to a 1922 Supreme Court decision, but this case also draws the interest of the NBA and NHL, both of which are hoping for a ruling in favor of the NFL. The case will be heard by the Supreme Court later this year or early in 2010.

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