Is Johnny Football headed to court?
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — A company representing Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel has filed a lawsuit to stop the sale of T-shirts using his "Johnny Football" nickname.
The federal lawsuit seeks damages for alleged trademark infringement and reimbursement for court fees and other compensation. It was filed by Manziel's limited liability company, JMAN2 Enterprises LLC, against Eric Vaughan of Fairview, Texas. He owns a website selling T-shirts that read "Keep Calm and Johnny Football."
Manziel's company filed the trademark for "Johnny Football" on March 2, and it is pending. JMAN2 Enterprises attorney Bennett White said the website has not followed a cease-and-desist letter, the Bryan-College Station Eagle reported (bit.ly/YZ6w7Q ).
The NCAA recently ruled that Manziel could keep the money from a lawsuit without forfeiting his amateur status. It is unclear how much Manziel could take home if he wins the lawsuit, but White pointed out that there is no award ceiling in federal court.
White said the lawsuit is to protect Manziel, and that the company is operated by a manager so that the quarterback can focus on college. However, White said that Manziel was aware of the lawsuit and stands behind it.
"The reason to seek damages would be to avoid having to file lots and lots of lawsuits because people may be willing to monitor their behavior and honor their rights," White said.
Shane Hinckley, Texas A&M assistant vice president of business development, said Texas A&M has sent more than 60 cease-and-desist letters concerning Manziel and has removed more than 900 items off EBay. The university is not part of the lawsuit against Vaughan.
Still, the university and Manziel's lawyers have their eye on others who are profiting off the "Johnny Football" name.
"There are other incidences similar to this that are being reviewed for possible additional legal litigation by both parties," Hinckley said.