Manziel’s family is working with the university to trademark “Johnny Football” now that they’ve received word that someone else has filed a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the phrase.
On November 1, an application was filed on behalf of Kenneth R. Reynolds Family Investments LP and Kenneth R. Reynolds, who reportedly has no connection with Manziel or his family. ESPN reports that the attorney working on the trademark application did not return a call seeking comment on the issue.
NCAA athletes are prohibited from profiting from merchandise that capitalizes on their name or image in order to retain eligibility to play their respective sports. Universities are expected to stop vendors from selling such merchandise as well, according to ESPN.
Accordingly, even if the Manziel family were to be granted the “Johnny Football” trademark, they wouldn’t be likely to use it until after Manziel’s NCAA remaining eligibility ran out or was forfeited.
Regarding the nickname itself, ESPN reports that Texas A&M “players and fans started calling [Manziel] that at the start of the season.” Manziel’s impressive freshman performance on the field has already put him in Heisman Trophy contention, his jersey in high-demand in the college bookstore, and now, his nickname in a potential legal battle.
This situation calls to mind NBA player Anthony Davis’ move to trademark the phrases “Fear the Brow” and “Raise the Brow.” Throughout Davis’ college career at the University of Kentucky, UK fought against vendor efforts to make money from Davis’ signature unibrow; as soon as Davis decided to leave college and give up his NCAA eligibility, he moved to protect his trademark look.
What do you think of the trademarking of college athletes’ nicknames or names?