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American Football League v. National Football League Case

Case Summary

American Football League vs. National Football League, 205 F. Supp. 60 (D. Md. 1962)

The American Football league, abbreviated as AFL, filed a lawsuit against the national football league (NFL) on the grounds of the Anti-Trust Act breach. The AFL sought to get injunctive relief and recover damages that resulted from the monopolization or attempted ‘take over’ of the football league. The plaintiff contended that the defendants tried to monopolize, monopolized, or conspired to monopolize metropolitan regions where franchises could be easily located (“American Football League v. National Football League,” n.d.). According to the complainant, this decree prevented them from obtaining television contracts, which resulted in damages. Contrarily, the accused argued that they did not dominate the business, and their actions (claimed as proof of conspiracy or attempt to monopolize) were only undertaken to expand the NFL league. The NFL had agreed to a television (TV) contract with CBS, an organization with broadcast entitlements in multiple TV networks. The aforementioned agreement gave the NFL the right to ascertain the games to be telecasted, an act that the contenders considered as conspiracy to monopolize.

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Court’s Judgment: Findings of Fact

The court based its analysis on the antitrust law, specifically the Sherman Antitrust Act, which outlaws monopolization. The statute mentioned above prohibits any contracts, mergers, and conspiracies that unreasonably restrain interstate trade. It was indisputable that both parties were subject to the antitrust regulation’s provisions since they both engage in interstate commerce and operated in the same market. Under the Sherman Antitrust Act, it is unlawful for any entity to control the marketplace, not because of its product/service superiority, but due to the fact that competition with other market players should be prevented. The Antitrust legislation is crucial because it allows for free competitive markets and ensures consumers get quality products at lower prices.

Case Outcome

The court determined that the NFL did not monopolize trade or attempt or conspire to dominate trade in the football league. As a matter of fact, it was evidenced that the NFL did not have any monopoly power in the business, particularly in the football league (“American Football League v. National Football League,” n.d.). The NFL contract with multiple TV networks was not by itself an antitrust law violation. It was also determined that the NFL’s actual intent and motives did not cause liability to the plaintiff, and therefore, the complainant was not entitled to any relief.

My Take on the Court’s Outcome

NFL’s agreement with multiple television networks might be considered as a horizontal restraint. The aforementioned constraint refers to trade limitations that involve getting into agreements with the sole purpose of minimizing competition. The NFL’s contractual treaty with TV networks restricted the operation of a free market by giving one market player the right to determine the games to be telecasted. Giving a single market player such entitlements provided them with the power to control the marketplace, thus violating the antitrust law. However, due to contractual rights, NFL would not be held liable for any breach. Therefore, the plaintiff would need to prove that the defendant got into that contractual consensus solely to dominate the market to win the case. Since the complainants could not prove that the accord’s intent was to monopolize, the accused would not be held liable. Therefore, I agree with the court’s decision that NFL did not attempt to dominate the market.

Appeals

There was a later appeal – the AFL and its franchise owners filed a retrial against the NFL following the NFL’s triumph in the courts. The AFL and its licensed holders had suffered defeat in the District Court following its ruling. The District Court decreed that the accused did not breach the three Sections contained under the Sherman Act (“American Football League et al., appellants”, n.d.). During the reconsideration’s proceedings, the court withheld the aforementioned verdict; they concluded that the District Court gave a proper ruling – the plaintiffs did not provide adequate proof of NFL’s monopolization and conspiracy or attempt thereof. On the contrary, no further appeals were made on the case.

References

American Football League et al., appellants, v. National Football League et al., appellees, 323 F.2d 124 (4th Cir. 1963) (n.d.) Justia U.S Law. Web.

American Football League v. National Football League, 205 F. Supp. 60 (D. Md. 1962). (n.d.). Justia US Law. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, October 4). American Football League v. National Football League Case. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/american-football-league-v-national-football-league-case/

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