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NCAA is watching Johnny Manziel’s trademark lawsuit for possible violations

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel might be able to stop people from profiting from his nickname “Johnny Football,” but the NCAA is keeping a watchful eye on whose might be infringing on Manziel’s trademark.

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Manziel’s company, JMAN2 Enterprises LLC, filed suit on Feb. 15 against Eric Vaughn, who has been selling shirts that say, “Keep Calm and Johnny Football.” Initially, the NCAA said Manziel could keep any damages awarded in the suit (and any other suit), but that opened up a litany of possibilities where boosters could filter money to Manziel by infringing on his trademark. That, of course, would be an NCAA violation.

"They specifically called that out," Texas A&M vice president of business development Shane Hinckley told SI.com. "If it was an orchestrated event between a student-athlete and a booster, then that would fall under the enforcement arm. So that's pretty much out."

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Hinckley told SI.com that most of the merchandise that infringes on Manziel’s trademark also infringes on Texas A&M's from using the school’s logo or simply its colors, maroon and white. A&M is not allowed to sell anything with Manziel’s name or likeness on it, though it does sell No. 2 jerseys.

In the end, it’s all about keeping Manziel eligible as he navigates these uncharted waters. Both the Manziel family and A&M are learning how to handle the Heisman Trophy winner’s fame one day at a time while keeping the NCAA on their good side in the process.

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