On Friday, November 20, Penn State Law will host a moot court event on American Needle v. NFL, an antitrust case currently briefed before the United States Supreme Court. Two veteran sports law professors will take opposite sides before a panel of federal appellate judges.
“Representing” the NFL will be Gary R. Roberts, Dean and Gerald L. Bepko Professor of Law of Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis, who once represented the NFL. A leading academic scholar in sports law, Roberts takes the view that the NFL is a single entity and thus internal league rules do not constitute agreements in restraint of trade. The interests of American Needle will be "represented" by Penn State Law Professor Stephen Ross, who will argue that NFL owners’ policies about licensing trademarked logos could constitute a conspiracy to restrain trade in violation of the Sherman Act.
Moot judges for the afternoon will be the Hon. D. Brooks Smith ’76 and the Hon. Dolores Korman Sloviter, both of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Hon. Richard Cudahy from the Seventh Circuit, who has written about this topic in the context of a previous antitrust lawsuit about NBA television rights.
“The issue of whether the NFL is properly characterized as a joint venture between competing club owners or a single entity is of great importance to the application of sports to antitrust law,” said Ross, who directs the Institute for Sports Policy, Law, and Research
at Penn State Law.
“If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the NFL, then virtually all league decisions with regard to labor issues, broadcasting, Internet, merchandising, franchise entry and relocation, and ownership rules will be exempt from antitrust challenge.”
The Supreme Court is expected to argue this case in the winter. The event begins at 12:30 p.m. in the courtroom (Room 110) in the Lewis Katz Building in University Park and will be simulcast to Advantica (Room 143) in Carlisle.