Bill Ending Antitrust Exemptions for Pro Sports Leagues Introduced

A bill to end the current permanent antitrust exemptions of the four major professional sports leagues was introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. on December 2.

Titled the Sustained Promotion of Responsibility in Team Sports Act (SPORTS), the bill would remove permanent antitrust exemptions for NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA one year from the bill’s enactment and replace it with a reauthorization process every five years.  According to the SPORTS Act, ninety-five days before ending the exemption, Congress would have an up-down vote on a …

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NHL Says No Common Question, No Common Answer, No Class Certification

In a court document released last week, NHL, Comcast, and others urged that the court should not grant a class certification to a group of TV broadcasting service subscribers who brought an antitrust action.  The defendants including NHL, Comcast, MLB and others argued that since the plaintiffs had failed to show common impact with common evidence, granting a class certification was not proper.

In 2012, the subscribers commenced the suit alleging that the restrictions imposed by the NHL and MLB on local TV broadcasters are …

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Judge Wilken Keeps Scholarship Lawsuits Against NCAA Alive

On Thursday, October 9, Northern District of California Judge, Claudia Wilken, denied the NCAA’s motion to dismiss pending class action lawsuits against it for scholarship related antitrust violations.

The NCAA filed its motion to dismiss the cases after the same judge, Claudia Wilken, ruled against the NCAA in the O’Bannon case finding the association was in violation of antitrust laws for its denial of player compensation.  The NCAA argues here that the Alston and Jenkins cases should be dismissed as the issue of player scholarships …

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MLB Seeks Pre-Trial Appeal & Plaintiffs Seek Class Certification in Antitrust Broadcasting Litigation

On Wednesday August 27, 2014, the MLB filed a motion for immediate interlocutory appeal with Judge Scheindlin in the Southern District of New York, seeking permission to appeal her recent order in their current antitrust litigation case.

The MLB’s geographically based broadcasting restrictions are currently being challenged in the SDNY by irate fans who are tired of blackout restrictions and the high prices of streaming games online.  Earlier this month, Judge Scheindlin ruled against the MLB’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the oft-cited antitrust …

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Players Are Harmed Regardless.

To start off the final round of filings, the plaintiffs in the O’Bannon trial submitted a brief addressing the court’s questions peppered at the end of the trial and rebutting the arguments articulated by the NCAA.

At the end of the trial, Judge Claudia Wilken rigorously asked fundamental questions to determine whether the plaintiffs sufficiently established that the NCAA has violated antitrust law.  The plaintiffs reiterated in their brief that pinpointing the buyer and the seller in this case is pointless.  Regardless of who the …

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O’Bannon Trial: The Ball is Now in the Hands of Judge Wilken

After 24 witnesses over 15 days of trial, it has finally come to an end, with a final round of filings scheduled to end on July 10.  Presiding Judge Claudia Wilken is expected to render her decision by early August.  No matter who wins, there will be appeals.

During the last day of the trial, the NCAA articulated the plaintiffs must show all the elements in an antitrust case: buyer, seller, market, product, agreement, restraint, antitrust injury and victim.  The NCAA further argued its rules …

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NCAA Separation Order

The NCAA is currently facing two related antitrust lawsuits regarding their ban on student-athlete compensation.  The first case, brought by former student-athlete and professional athlete Ed O’Bannon, is now set for trial on June 9, 2014.  The second case, brought by former student-athlete Sam Keller, is set for March of 2015.

Ed O’Bannon brought his case in 2009, 10 years after his retirement, when he saw his name and likeness being broadcasted by the NCAA during a basketball tournament.  O’Bannon is not seeking a monetary …

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NFL Sacked Again in American Needle Case – May Head to Trial in Antitrust Dispute

In 2010, the Supreme Court declared that the National Football League’s practice of league-wide licensing deals was not immune from antitrust scrutiny under Section One of the Sherman Act.  On remand, a recent order by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied the NFL’s motion to dismiss the case and set the stage for a trial.

The American Needle company, an entity that had acted as a vendor for the NFL for 20 years, initially sued the league, 30 of its …

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Collegiate Athletes Bring in a Ringer for New Action Against NCAA

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) is currently defending student amateurism on several fronts across the country in legal battles with big potential monetary implications.  In one ongoing lawsuit, former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon leads a class action on behalf of former and current NCAA players, alleging that the organization’s practice of licensing and profiting from student images and likenesses without their consent violates federal antitrust laws.  Elsewhere, Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter organized a union movement at the school and requested that the National …

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City of San Jose resumes its fight against MLB’s Antitrust Exemption

Last fall U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte dismissed a lawsuit filed by the city of San Jose against Major League Baseball (MLB) in which the city claimed that MLB had wrongfully prevented San Jose from enticing the Oakland A’s to relocate to Silicon Valley. Judge Whyte had reasoned that MLB’s antitrust exemption – a status bestowed on the league in a 1922 Supreme Court decision – barred the suit and required that the action be dismissed.

On March 5, city attorneys filed a brief …

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