College Athletes: You Want to Get Paid without Violating NCAA Rules? File a Trademark Lawsuit a la Johnny Manziel

College Athletes: You Want to Get Paid without Violating NCAA Rules? File a Trademark Lawsuit a la Johnny Manziel

Under NCAA rules, boosters can't pay college athletes, but apparently, the courts can.

The Houston Chronicle is reporting that the NCAA has determined that Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel, can keep any potential earnings awarded in his recently filed trademark lawsuit.

Two weeks ago, Jman2 Enterprises, L.L.C., which owns all rights regarding the use of Manziel's name, nickname, image, picture, likeness, and trademark, filed a trademark lawsuit against Eric Vaughan.

Vaughan is accused of selling and marketing goods bearing Manziel's trademark "Johnny Football."

"Defendant has willfully used and continues to use Plaintiff's property in the form of the mark 'Johnny Football,'" the complaint alleges, "with the intent of profiting from Johnny Manziel's name, nickname, image, picture, and likeness."

An application to register the mark "Johnny Football" is currently pending before the USPTO.

The Houston Chronicle reports that in the case of Manziel, the NCAA had to answer the following question:

Can student-athletes profit from lawsuits concerning alleged trademark infringements?

That answer appears to be yes.

According to the Chronicle, the NCAA has specifically said that Manziel can keep any winnings from a civil proceeding as a private entity.

The NCAA distinguishes Manziel's situation from an event that's orchestrated to enable cash flow to a student-athlete. Such a scenario, which constitutes an NCAA violation, might include a student-athlete scheming to sue a booster as a way for the booster to channel money to the student-athlete. 


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