Keep Calm and Johnny Football: The Evolving Trademark Rights of College Athletes, pp. 246-248

John Grady
Mark S. Nagel

On February 15, 2013, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel’s licensing company, JMAN2 Enterprises LLC, filed suit against Eric Vaughn, who had been selling a variety of shirts that featured the phrase “Keep Calm and Johnny Football” with various uses of Texas A&M’s color scheme and/or protected logos (Watson, 2013a). Manziel filed to register a trademark in his nickname “Johnny Football” during the 2012 season prior to winning the Heisman Trophy (the trademark registration was still pending approval before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office [USPTO] at the time of this writing). His licensing company sued for federal trademark infringement under the Lanham Act as well as violation of Texas right of publicity and unfair competition laws (Keahey, 2013). The case sparked an interesting discussion among athletic department compliance personnel and intercollegiate athletic observers when the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) noted that Manziel could keep any profits he was awarded for enforcing his trademark rights against potential infringers without jeopardizing his eligibility (Watson, 2013a).