After Further Review, NFL’s “Hail Mary” Pass Ruled Incomplete: Supreme Court Holds NFL’s Joint Trademark Licensing Subject to Section 1 of the Sherman Act

June 01, 2010
In American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League, the Supreme Court has ruled that an agreement by members of the NFL, a lawful joint venture, to pool their separately owned intellectual property for joint licensing is subject to full Rule of Reason scrutiny under section 1 of the Sherman Act, even though the 32 teams of the NFL have long engaged in such joint licensing for the common promotion of NFL football. This update explains the Supreme Court’s decision and the risk it may post to some established business arrangements previously considered beyond the reach of section 1.