Judge Refuses To Put Antitrust Claim Against Sports League On IceWed Oct 15, 2008 @ 12:05PM PST
By Eriq Gardner
In a victory for large-market professional sports franchises, a federal judge has denied the dismissal of an antitrust lawsuit that alleges that the NHL is illegally restraining trade by requiring one of its teams — the Rangers, owned by Madison Square Garden LP — to turn over control of their website to the NHL. The lawsuit was filed last September by MSG as a significant challenge to the idea that sports leagues control intellectual property rights as a single entity. Specifically, MSG challenged the league's authority over new media since these digital properties were not explicitly covered in the team's original consent agreement with the league.
These days, sports leagues make billions of dollars licensing the broadcast and merchandise rights of their product (yes, even hockey), and revenue-sharing has been a sore subject between teams in lucrative markets and teams with a smaller fan base.