Manziel mania prompts quarterback's family to trademark 'Johnny Football'
Nov 13, 2012 (The Eagle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Johnny Manziel mania had already consumed College Station, but the world got its dose Saturday when the freshman football phenom helped upset top-ranked Alabama.
But even before the win, unlicensed "Johnny Football" merchandise was cropping up, and the Manziel family was working to trademark the nickname. Neither Johnny nor his family would immediately make money from the trademark, as doing so would endanger his collegiate eligibility.
"It's really just to protect Johnny," said Paul Manziel, the grandfather of A&M's starting quarterback. "If Johnny does well, if anyone ought to profit from his ability, it ought to be Johnny."
Manziel's grandfather, along with other members of the family, hired Tyler attorney Bennett White to trademark the moniker. They made the move about a month ago, after A&M officials introduced the idea to the family and warned them of unlicensed "Johnny Football" gear.
"To me, what's surreal is not that the family is conceivably going through trademark filing, it is that within months there are profiteers out there in the virtual marketplace who are trying to make a buck off of his success," White said. "You go from battling for a job and trying to win games to other people trying to use your likeness. Who needs that distraction "
Shane Hinckley, Texas A&M assistant vice president of business development, said the university has sent out 10 cease-and-desist letters in the past two weeks to people marketing "Johnny Football." The university is focused on NCAA compliance and protecting their star quarterback's eligibility, he said, while the family is focused on the trademark to protect Manziel from profiteers. Still, Hinckley described the trademark process as collaborative between the family and university.
"We will work with them, because we have the same goal -- which is to protect Johnny," Hinckley said. "We want 'Johnny Football' to be Johnny Manziel's. We don't want someone not associated with the family to be making a quick buck off his likeness."
White said the trademark registration can take about eight months, depending on how easy it is to register and if there's any opposition.
"The key is that the public identifies the label, the mark, with a particular provider of goods or services," White said. "As we sit here today, it would be hard to say in the public eye, 'Johnny Football' could be referred to anybody else."
The nickname was already famous in Kerrville, where Manziel quarterbacked the Tivy High Fighting Antlers. Paul Manziel said his grandson earned the nickname in high school, but acknowledged family accounts differ of when the "Johnny Football" legend began.
"Everybody in South Texas knew who he was, but not all over the world," Manziel said.
Making money off the trademark is an afterthought, Manziel said, but he added that "Johnny Football" merchandise might eventually materialize.
"If he goes pro and if he does well in college they could market 'Johnny Football' video games or shirts or things of that nature," Manziel said.
It's a seemingly natural progression, given how television announcers already compare Manziel to a video game character when he makes unconventional plays. The Manziel family is possibly the only group not caught off guard by the success of the quarterback who was just named the starter in August.
A&M officials were certainly surprised by the "Johnny Football" madness.
"There was no way we could predict this," Hinckley said.
Hinckley said the only comparison he could think of was former LSU cornerback and Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu, nicknamed the "Honey Badger."
"You have to go back to probably Jorvorskie Lane and 'J-Train,' and that was nowhere even close to what this is," Hinckley said. "There's really no precedent."
Hinckley advised Aggies to visit trademarks.tamu.edu to report unlicensed gear.
"If anybody sees any product out there, it's unauthorized, unlicensed and bootlegged, and none of it supports Texas A&M or the Manziel family," Hinckley said.
___ (c)2012 The Eagle (Bryan, Texas) Visit The Eagle (Bryan, Texas) at
www.theeagle.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
[ Sports Techy's Homepage ]