Saturday, February 23, 2013

Johnny Manziel and the law

This copyright stuff is getting out of control. Johnny Manziel, nicknamed "Johnny Football", the hot-shot freshman QB from Texas A&M that won the Heiman trophy last year, is suing. Or at least his corporation is.

That's right. According to the Sporting News, after only one year of college football, the kid's got his own corporation named JMAN2 Enterprises LLC. What, exactly, other than Manziel himself, this corporation intends to market remains unclear. But it appears somehow he, likely with the assistance of a few lawyers, has copyrighted the name "Johnny Football" so no one else can use it.

Of course, in America, if there's a way to make a buck, somebody will find it. Enter Eric Vaughan, just another guy that wanted to make a few bucks selling tee shirts. Vaughan came up with the bright idea of putting "Keep calm and Johnny Football" on some shirts. Perhaps he intended to send a message to A&M (and its fans) about hoping Manziel stays at the school for another year or 3, instead of going pro.

JMAN2 cried foul. They not only want Vaughan to stop selling the shirts, but may even claim damages. All because Vaughan dared to use the term "Johnny Football" on his merchandise. This is beginning to sound like a combination of sour grapes and Scrooge McDuck, because Manziel and his minions didn't think of it first. And OMG, they're missing out on a few bucks.

The Sporting News also pointed out that, in a strange ruling, the NCAA informed A&M it was okay for Manziel (and/or his corporation), as an amateur, to keep any money recovered from a lawsuit, but not profit off his football skills until he either left school or his eligibility ran out. In other words, even though he can't sell the shirts himself, he doesn't want anybody else to either.

And let's get real. It's not like he's missing out on millions. Chances are, like most other faddish tee shirts, Vaughan might have made a few hundred, maybe even a few thousand bucks, before the fad disappeared as quickly as it arose. That's pretty much how it usually goes. To be sure, those shirts would only be popular amongst A&M students, fans, and other supporters. Outside of that small demographic -- who else would want them? It's also likely that countless millions await Manziel when he DOES go pro. This is a drop in the bucket.

But no, better to rake some poor guy over the legal coals hoping to squeeze whatever money they can out of him. Perhaps someone should tell JMAN2 that this is not exactly great public relations. Again, Manziel wouldn't be allowed to profit off such shirts ANYWAY. To boot, he's getting free publicity in a positive way.

It makes one wonder just how dumb some of our laws are. Evidently, it would  be legally acceptable to  print up paraphernalia that say, "Raise hell and Heil Hitler", or something else equally disgusting -- but "Keep Calm and Johnny Football" is off-limits. All because dear Johnny has a corporation on paper.

In the opinion of yours truly -- something is wrong with this picture.

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