American Needle: The Supreme Court Evaluates Antitrust Immunity for Joint Ventures
15 June 2010Antitrust, Competition and Economic Regulation Alert
Breaking a string of victories for antitrust defendants, a unanimous Supreme Court issued its opinion in American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League on 24 May 2010. The decision treats the conduct of joint ventures comprised of independently owned and independently managed businesses that act as "separate economic actors" and are potential "independent centers of decisionmaking" as the collective action of the venturers and thus subject to challenge under Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Justice Stevens delivered this valedictory antitrust opinion with a warning that even the internal decisions of a lawfully-constituted joint venture among competitors may be treated as concerted action subject to Section 1 of the Sherman Act.