Here Comes Johnny Cleveland: Manziel Seeks Trademark Registration on New Nickname

Johnny Manziel has yet to play in a regular season NFL game for his new team, the Cleveland Browns, but judging by his recent trademark application he seems to have long term plans in town. The much hyped quarterback filed a trademark application on the name “Johnny Cleveland” in the class covering athletic apparel. While it remains to be seen whether Manziel will be successful on the field, he is no stranger to protecting his celebrity image. The Johnny Cleveland trademark application is Manziel’s 10th filing.

Manziel is a polarizing figure, which only serves to increase interest in the up-and-coming player. His stellar play in 2012 for Texas A&M earned him the nickname “Johnny Football” and garnered him the Heisman trophy as college football’s most outstanding player. He also captured a lot of attention with his off-the-field antics. He spent time hanging out with celebrities and being hounded by paparazzi. With all the fame, Manziel’s company, JMAN 2, filed several trademark applications, including filings for Johnny Football and “the house that Johnny built”, a reference to Texas A&M’s newly built stadium.

While it’s typical for Manziel to seek out attention, it looks like his new trademark application is more reactive than proactive. Two different applicants filed trademark applications on Johnny Cleveland earlier this year. Manziel filed his trademark application after both of these individuals. Fortunately for Manziel, the Trademark Office rejected the two other applicants on grounds of a false connection and using a name of a living individual without consent.

Trademark law prevents the registration of a mark that “consists of or comprises matter that may falsely suggest a connection with persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols”, something a qualified trademark attorney would know.This prevents someone from capitalizing on a celebrity or well-known individual without their permission. Another rule of trademark law requires the consent of a living person to register marks referring to that person. For example, you wouldn’t be able to file a trademark on some form of Oprah without her consent. These rules stop the two prior Johnny Cleveland marks from receiving trademark registration and should allow Manziel to move forward with his own application. If his football career doesn’t pan out, he may be able to make something out of his brand with all of his trademark registrations.

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