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Manchester United Sues Football Manager for Trademark Infringement

Manchester United of the English Premier League (EPL) is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with SEGA Publishing and Sport Interactive (SI) over their portrayal of the team in Football Manager.

Manchester United/FM Lawsuit

According to The Guardian, the lawsuit centers around the use of Manchester United’s name in Football Manager series, as well as the club’s belief that Football Manager‘s utilization of a red and white crest that replaces the team’s logo violates trademark laws. The club declared that this “deprives the registered proprietor of its right to have the club crest licensed.”

SI and SEGA responded to the lawsuit by stating that the use of Manchester United’s name is “a legitimate reference to the Manchester United football team in a football context.” The team’s name has been used in the franchise since 1992, when the game was called Championship Manager. SI and SEGA stated that the club has not taken any issue with this until now, and that Manchester United has in the past asked the developers for access to the game’s player database for scouting purposes.

Court Proceedings

At a preliminary hearing on Friday, Simon Malynicz QC, representing Manchester United, stated that the team has an incredibly valuable name and brand. Malynicz stated that the amount of money the team receives from licensing is quite significant and “the products and services that are licensed by the claimant benefit from an association with the club’s winning culture and its brand values.”

Manchester United’s barrister also argued for an amendment to the lawsuit that would include mods. The barrister argued that SEGA and SI encouraged the use of content downloaded by third-parties “by promoting the patch providers in various ways and, of course, they directly benefited from it by avoiding the need to take any licence and enjoying increased sales of their game.” The judge in the case, Justice Morgan, has not made a decision regarding the amendment as of today.

Both SEGA and SI stated in a written statement regarding United’s claim, “The claimant has acquiesced in the use by the defendants of the name of the Manchester United football team in the Football Manager game and cannot now complain of such use.”

Roger Wyand QC, representing SEGA and SI, also used United players’ usage of the game as part of the argument against the club. He stated that “copies of the game have also been sent by SI to a number of officials and players at the [club] for a number of years and there have been a number of positive press comments and tweets about the game by them.”

   


       

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