Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Enforcing Johnny Football's Intangible Property Rights

Rick Reilly's column today, Selling Johnny Football, provides an interesting perspective on Johnny Manziel's trademark lawsuit filed in Texas against a man who was selling T-shirts that read, "Keep Calm and Johnny Football."  It was reported that Texas A&M's compliance office recently received a ruling from the NCAA that an athlete can keep earnings (a damages award) obtained in a lawsuit.  Why the NCAA thinks it must first give an athlete permission before he can sue someone for stealing his intangible property rights and keep the damages award if successful is beyond me.  Would an athlete also need the NCAA's permission to sue someone for stealing his wallet or computer?

But in any event, Reilly raises the point in his column that now that the NCAA has given its "blessing" for Manziel to enforce his legal rights against those profiting off his identity, he should go after the NCAA and Texas A&M now.   Reilly asks:  "How can the NCAA see the evil in some citizen cashing in unfairly on Manziel's name but not when it does it?  How can Texas A&M send out more than 60 cease-and-desist letters to people selling Manziel items, as it says it has, and not accept one itself?"