'American Needle’ Has Repercussions Beyond Sports

Ruling supports suits against some joint ventures in real estate, health care and other industries.

November 1, 2010

Reprinted with permission from the November 1, 2010 edition of THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL © 2010 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved.

In American Needle Inc. v. National Football League, 130 S. Ct. 2201 (2010), the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that collective licensing of the 32 National Football League teams' intellectual property constituted an "agreement" among competitors under § 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1. The Court's decision will extend well beyond the arena of professional sports, however, to preserve or strengthen antitrust enforcement in several critical sectors of the U.S. economy. In particular, the Court's decision supports government and private suits against real estate multiple-listing services, physician joint ventures and payment-card networks, and perhaps joint ventures in other industries as well.

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K. Craig Wildfang


Chair Emeritus, Antitrust and Trade Regulation Group

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