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From Antitrust Law Daily, November 21, 2016

NFL, Reebok settle exclusive licensing agreement suit for $4.75M

By Greg Hammond, J.D.

The federal district court in San Jose, California, has approved a $4.75 million settlement, disposing of a consumer’s class action claims that the National Football League (NFL) and Reebok International, Ltd. entered into unlawful agreements concerning the licensing of the NFL’s and its teams’ intellectual property. The settlement was deemed fair, reasonable, and adequate (Villa v. San Francisco Forty Niners, Ltd. , November 17, 2016, Davila, E.).

Consumer Michael Villa filed suit against the NFL, National Football League Properties (NFLP), 30 individual NFL member teams, and Reebok International, Ltd., alleging an exclusive licensing agreement between the defendants, in violation of the Sherman Act and California’s Cartwright Act and Unfair Competition Law. The agreements related to the licensing of the NFL’s and its teams’ intellectual property for use in apparel intended for the consumer retail market.

The defendants agreed to pay $4.75 million to reimburse and compensate for the alleged overcharge amount associated with class members’ eligible purchases of NFL apparel items, according to Villa’s motion for final approval of class action settlement. The court approved the settlement, finding it to be fair, reasonable, and adequate, and in the best interest of the settlement class. In particular, the court noted that Villa faced significant risks in litigating the case, and the settlement provides a fair amount of relief for class members’ claims. The settlement was also the result of informed, non-collusive arm-length negotiations, according to the court, and no class members objected to the settlement, or requested exclusion from the settlement class.

The settlement class includes all persons nationwide who made an eligible purchase except for the excluded persons. An eligible purchase includes a purchase made in California at retail for personal use and not for resale or for other commercial gain, during the class period, of a licensed jersey, hat, or pair of shoes bearing the intellectual property of the NFL, NFLP, and/or and NFL Club or Clubs.

In a separate order, the court awarded more than $1.5 million in attorney fees, nearly $850,000 in litigations costs and expenses, and a $5,000 incentive award to Villa.

The case is No. 5:12-cv-05481-EJD.

Attorneys: Roy Arie Katriel (The Katriel Law Firm PC) for Michael Villa. Sonya Diane Winner and Derek Ludwin (Covington & Burling, LLP) for San Francisco Forty Niners, Ltd., National Football League Properties, Inc., and National Football League. Svetlana Michelle Berman (Latham & Watkins LLP) for Reebok International, Ltd.

Companies: National Football League Properties, Inc.; National Football League; Reebok International, Ltd.; San Francisco Forty Niners, Ltd.

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust CaliforniaNews

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