American Needle


Find and research the American Needle case online. What was the issue in the case? Do you agree with the decision? Why or why not?

Be sure to 1) identify the legal source of the issue, 2) define the legal terms/phrases that apply to the facts, 3) include a minimum of 4 Internet references, and 4) properly cite and reference all sources using APA format.



American Needle

            American Needle, a manufacturer of caps, sued the Nation Football League (NFL) for entering with an exclusive ten-year agreement with Reebok to produce headwear that featured the logo of all the NFL teams (Rancour, n.d.). This signing came after the expiry of the Reebok’s twenty-year contract with American Needle, one of the suppliers of the NFL teams’ apparel. Before granting Reebok the exclusive right to supply apparel, the National Football League Properties (NFLP), which was the authority responsible for giving licenses to vendors and manufacturers, had for years been offering simultaneous licenses to different vendors.


The legal issue in this case was whether the professional sports league could be considered as a single entity under the Section 1 of the Sherman Act. In this lawsuit, American Needle was accusing the professional sports body of conspiring to restrict trade with other manufacturers (American Needle Inc. v. National Football League, n.d.). Under the Sherman Act, Section 1, it is against the law to contract, combine … or conspire with an aim of restricting trade (Rancour, n.d.). American Needle felt that NFL was immune to the antitrust laws if only it could be consider a “single entity”. American Needle viewed the NFL as not constituting a single entity hence held the view that it was violating the antitrust law (Vehling, 2015). The NFL, on the other hand, argued that it had to act independently for the purposes of producing a competitive product (Rancour, n.d.). It held that when acting independently, it has to be exempted from the antitrust liability.

American Needle lost the case against NFL through a unanimous decision in whichthe latter was regarded as a single entity even though it comprised 32 teams that were owned and operated separately (Belson, 2015). I agree with the decision because the NFL teams were independently owned by NFLP, which was responsible for negotiating contracts on their behalf. The concerted activity by the NFLP is covered under the Section 1 of Sherman Act.


American Needle Inc. v. National Football League. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved June 23, 2017, from

Belson, K. (18 Feb 2015). N.F.L. and American Needle Agree to Settle Lawsuit. The New York Times. Retrieved June 23, 2017 from

Rancour, J. (ed) (n.d.). American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League, et al. (08-661). Retrieved June 23, 2017 from

Vehling, A (17 Feb, 2015). NFL, American Needle To Settle Antitrust Suit. Law 360. Retrieved June 23, 2017 from

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