SHELBY TOWNSHIP, MICHIGAN / OAK PARK, MICHIGAN (September 17, 2019) — Michigan-based sports equipment company, Mayfield Athletics, announced it has filed, through its legal counsel, official antitrust and tort litigation against the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) and three football helmet manufacturers, Schutt, Riddell, and Xenith. Mayfield Athletics alleges NOCSAE’s positions and official statements surrounding standards for aftermarket and add-on products for helmets have unlawfully restrained trade and competition in the national market for football safety equipment and accessories.
The factual allegations set forth in Mayfield Athletics’ Complaint reflect the existence of multiple contracts, combinations, and conspiracies between the above-mentioned helmet manufacturers and NOCSAE to maintain a monopoly on the market for football safety equipment and accessories, thereby excluding manufacturers of aftermarket and add-on products, such as its patented S.A.F.E.Clip, from the national market for such products.
“Over the past several years, Mayfield Athletics has engineered and rigorously tested S.A.F.E.Clip, an aftermarket facemask clip proven to reduce G-force impact by as much as 35 percent. NOCSAE-approved labs, as well as other independent labs, have confirmed such reductions,” said Jim Hewson, legal counsel for Mayfield Athletics. “Unfortunately, while NOCSAE has established standards for football helmets, it has publicly and privately maintained that facemask attachment hardware, such as S.A.F.E.Clip, is not certified and cannot be certified given the lack of NOCSAE standards for such hardware.”
Hewson continued: “NOCSAE’s decades of influence and public statements have created the belief in consumers that products with a NOCSAE sticker are synonymous with safety. Consequently, products that NOCSAE claims fail to meet their standards, or, as in our case, for which they never even created a standard in the first place, are denied and disapproved. Furthermore, and even more detrimental, are NOCSAE’s various contradictory and blame-shifting statements and positions that empower helmet manufacturers to operate as third-party gatekeepers for aftermarket and add-on products.”
The Complaint also states allegations based on NOCSAE’s various lucrative licensing agreements with Schutt, Riddell, and Xenith under which the manufacturers pay a per unit fee in exchange for use of NOCSAE’s trademarked logo(s) or phrase(s) on the products themselves, as well as product packaging, instructions, documentation, and marketing materials. Most aftermarket and add-on products are ineligible for a similar licensing agreement because of 1) the absence of NOCSAE standards for these products and 2) the gatekeeping role NOCSAE allows helmet manufacturers to play. Such agreements further fuel Mayfield Athletics’ case for anticompetitive conduct.
“We acknowledge our experiences are not isolated. We are fighting for the rights of all manufacturers of aftermarket and add-on products for football helmets,” commented Justin Summerville, CEO of Mayfield Athletics. “Additionally, we are fighting for the millions of consumers and football players who have been deterred, prevented, or denied from purchasing aftermarket products that have the potential of dramatically increasing the safety of the sport.”
The lawsuit was filed on September 16, 2019 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Case No. 2:19cv12712 GAD/EAS.
To read the filed Complaint, or for more information on the litigation, visit getsafeclip.com/calltoarms.
S.A.F.E.Clip (Shock Absorbing Football Equipment), a division of Mayfield Athletics, is an aftermarket facemask clip proven to reduce G-force impact as much as 35 percent. S.A.F.E.Clip is fully patented; a second patent is pending for its Gen 2. To learn more, visit getsafeclip.com.
About Mayfield Athletics
Mayfield Athletics is an innovative sports equipment company with a mission to enhance safety and functionality for players of all ages. To learn more, visit mayfieldathletics.com.