For many years, American Needle was a non-exclusive licensee of the NFL and was permitted to sell hats bearing the names and logos of NFL teams. But recently, the NFL stopped granting non-exclusive licences, opting instead to give Reebok an exclusive licence. (Sound familiar?) So American Needle sued the NFL, Reebok and other related parties, claiming that the exclusive licence violates US antitrust law.
The NFL and the other defendants applied to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that there were no legal grounds to proceed with the lawsuit. The court disagreed and allowed the lawsuit to proceed.
EA is probably following this case with great interest, given its recent acquisition of several long-term exclusive licences with the NFL, AFL and ESPN.