Just when we thought the Johnny Manziel trademark story was on its way to being settled, the former Texas A&M quarterback's efforts to defend rights to his name and likeness are apparently facing a new hurdle.
But this time, the hurdle appears to be someone Manziel knows quite well.
The family of Nate Fitch, the longtime friend of Manziel who was involved in the alleged autograph signings that landed Manziel in hot water with the NCAA last year, owns a company that filed for trademark rights to the phrase "The House That Johnny Built." Fitch Estate Sales beat the Manziel camp to the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office by a month, according to espn.com.
Fitch attorney Gerald Fowler told ESPN that by his understanding, Manziel and Fitch were planning to capitalize on the trademarked phrase together.
"My guess is that there was a lack of communication here," Fowler said.
Texas A&M's Kyle Field is undergoing an extensive renovation, and the popularity that A&M football rose to in Manziel's two years as a starter, including a Heisman Trophy-winning season in 2012, is at the root of whatever dollars can be made from the phrase "The House That Johnny Built." Manziel is projected to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft next month, and his success at the NFL level could help leverage merchandising profits for that phrase, or the "Johnny Football" phrase the Manziel camp had to fight for, as well.
We've not heard much at all from Fitch since Manziel escaped serious NCAA punishment with a half-game suspension, which was Texas A&M's action but rubber-stamped by the NCAA, for the Aggies' season opener against Rice last fall.
Here's guessing we'll hear more from him soon.