According to CBSSports.com, Johnny Manziel, the reigning Heisman winner, may have a trademark infringement dispute to thank for his current troubles with the NCAA. Back in January, eBay doled out two-week suspensions to anyone selling memorabilia that referenced Manziel’s nickname “Johnny Football” or that used the nickname in the description of memorabilia they were selling, even if the actual memorabilia contained no reference to the nickname.
“When his family filed to [trademark] his name, ‘Johnny Football,’ all of us dealers, and I’m talking like 500 of us, had items on eBay related to Johnny Manziel,” said Rob Rudolph, a memorabilia dealer. “They weren’t necessarily signed by him. I had Heisman programs from where he won the Heisman. So on that listing it would say, ‘Johnny Manziel, Johnny Football, Texas A&M Heisman Program.’ eBay swiped across the country and took all of those items down. All of ‘em. And, in addition to that, they banned everyone who had done it for two weeks. No prior warning or nothing.”
Now it is Manziel who could be in hot water. The Heisman winner is under investigation by the NCAA for allegedly being paid by memorabilia dealers—who could have very well been some of the same dealers he had suspended by eBay—to sign hundreds of items of football memorabilia, which, as a college athlete, he is not allowed to do.
“I had 400 items up. I had six or eight related to Manziel and they pulled all of ‘em,” said Rudolph of his eBay suspension. “I called [eBay]. I said, ‘I’ve never had any trouble on eBay whatsoever.’ They said, ‘This is a legal thing and you violated a legal code so you’re suspended for two weeks.’ For me, I’m small time. That was an irritating thing because for two weeks, I couldn’t sell anything. I am quite sure for people whose livelihood are this business, that was crippling. If there’s anybody who has an ax to grind, pick any of those people.”
For more information on intellectual property disputes or to schedule an appointment with our Los Angeles trademark infringement attorney, contact our firm today at (323) 653-3900 or by filling out the case review form on this page.
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