American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League, et al.

Date:
Citation Number: 08-661

Joint brief of the United States and the Federal Trade Commission as amicus curiae urging the Supreme Court to deny certiorari in this case, in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that the National Football League (NFL) and its separately owned, member teams functioned as a “single entity” when licensing and marketing their logos and trademarks under an exclusive licensing agreement with Reebok International, Ltd. The plaintiff, American Needle, had alleged that the agreement was unlawful under Section 1 of the Sherman Act as concerted conduct in restraint of trade. The NFL and its members teams argued that their conduct was that of a “single entity” under the Copperweld doctrine (Copperweld Corp. v. Independence Tube Corp., 467 U.S. 752 (1984)). The brief argues that the case does not merit Supreme Court review because of an absence of a split among the courts of appeals and because it does not represent an appropriate vehicle for ruling whether a sports league and its member teams (or generally any joint venture and its participants) should be deemed to function as a “single entity.”