Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Foot…, err Johnny Manziel, or his representation at least, has filed their first lawsuit for trademark infringement over the use of “Johnny Football”, which the Manziel family licensed during what turned out to be his 2012 Heisman winning campaign.
According to the Southeast Texas Record, JMAN2 Enterprises LLC (representing Manziel) filed suit against Eric Vaughan last Friday (February 15). The defendant is accused of selling shirts with the specific trademarked “Johnny Football” as a key feature. The SE Texas Record continues:
The defendant is accused of trademark infringement under the Lanham Act, Texas unfair competition, including right of publicity, palming off and misappropriation.
JMAN2 Enterprises is asking the court for injunctive relief and an award of damages for the unlawful sale of goods, exemplary damages, attorney’s fees, interest, and court costs.
The plaintiff is represented by J. Bennett White and Virgil J. Jordan of J. Bennett White PC in Tyler.
U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider is assigned to the case.
Further, according to ESPN Sports Business Reporter & Business Correspondent Darren Rovell, Manziel can keep the money recovered in the suit without NCAA violation.
NCAA tells Texas A&M that if Johnny Manziel sues for “Johnny Football” rights and wins damages, he can keep that $.
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) February 23, 2013
As a sidenote, this is not the first time Texas A&M (in general) has been associated with trademark infringement. The University went after the Seattle Seahawks for use of the “12th Man” in 2006. And essentially won, receiving fees and disclosure of their ownership of the trademark. The school also went after the Denver Broncos after they explored using the 12th man moniker during a playoff game.
Also, in the late 2000-aughts, Texas A&M proprietors were told to cease and desist (by University of Texas legal representation) using the trademarked Longhorns (with horns sawed off). That case was settled by using a patch of artistic hair on the brow to distinguish it from the one you would see on the Longhorns helmets.
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