Monday, June 20, 2011

An Update on the American Needle Litigation

It has been a little over a year since the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League. I thought I'd check to see how the case was progressing upon remand to the district court.

Perhaps not surprisingly, little has transpired since the case was returned to the Northern District of Illinois. The most significant development to date was the reassignment of the case to Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman in December, as the original judge presiding over the litigation, Senior Judge James B. Moran, unfortunately passed away during the pendency of the Supreme Court appeal. Judge Coleman let the case sit until this past April, and since that time the parties have been preparing to restart the discovery process. Discovery is currently scheduled to run until Dec. 31, 2012.

One item of note comes from the parties' recent joint status report, which stated that there have been no meaningful settlement discussions to date. Therefore, it appears the American Needle litigation is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.

For an analysis of the likely outcome of the remand of American Needle, be sure to read Marc Edelman's forthcoming law review article, Upon Further Review: Will the NFL's Trademark Licensing Practices Survive Full Antitrust Scrutiny? The Remand of American Needle v. National Football League.

Meanwhile, for those who just can't get enough analysis of the Supreme Court's decision in American Needle, check out my forthcoming article, American Needle and the Future of the Single Entity Defense Under Section One of the Sherman Act. In addition to considering the effect of the decision on the single entity precedent generally, the article also discusses its implications for the professional sports industry. Specifically, although I take issue with some of the Court's discussion of the single entity status of the NFL, and argue that the opinion does not necessarily signal the death of the single entity defense in all professional sports antitrust cases, I ultimately conclude that the decision is unlikely to have a significant effect on the industry given that it largely reaffirmed the status quo.