Johnny Manziel Scores Trademark Rights to “Johnny Football”

By Joseph Mandour on April 3, 2014

Trademark RegistrationOrange County – Texas A&M Football star Johnny Manziel landed a big victory this recently as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) handed down a final refusal against a company that sought trademark rights to the name “Johnny Football.”  The 21 year-old standout quarterback filed his own trademark application for Johnny Football on February 2, 2013 in relation to clothing and entertainment services, including motivational speaking.  Another company, however, had already filed the same trademark application earlier in 2012.  As a result of that filing, Manziel’s own application was suspended pending the disposition of the prior filed application.

The company that first filed to protect the “Johnny Football” moniker, Kenneth R. Reynolds Family Investments, is an investment firm based in College Station, Texas, where Texas A&M University is located.  Though the firm filed its application for “Johnny Football” first, it alleged in filings with the USPTO that the term did not refer to any specific living person.  On March 20, an Examining Attorney with the USPTO handed down a final refusal to register the trademark, citing a multitude of evidence pointing to Johnny Manziel as “Johnny Football.”

According to trademark law, if an applied-for trademark refers to a specific living person, the applicant must prove that the individual has consented to use of their name before such trademark may register.  Seeing as how Manziel himself is competing for the right to use “Johnny Football”,  it comes as no wonder that Kenneth R. Reynolds Family Investments was out of luck in obtaining Manziel’s consent.  Without it, the firm has almost no chance of securing registration, though it still has the chance to submit a response or dispute the matter in a court of law or with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB).

For Manziel’s part, the refusal issued against the Kenneth R. Reynolds Family Investments application could clear the path for his own application to proceed to registration.  If it does, it could open the door to a new level of sports merchandising, appearances and media using the term “Johnny Football.”  With Manziel set to enter the NFL draft next month, a registered trademark of his signature namesake would likely add to his marketability as an athlete.

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