Manchester United sue Football Manager over use of club’s name

As confirmed by a number of high-profile outlets across the English media, Manchester United have come to the decision to sue the developers of the Football Manager video game series, over the alleged improper use of the club’s name and crest.

United vs FM

News regarding the surprise decision of those in a position of power at Old Trafford first came to light yesterday evening.

The Guardian and more confirmed the news that United had opened legal proceedings against Sega Publishing and Sports Interactive, the joint-developers of Football Manager.

This comes following claims on the part of the Red Devils that the latest edition of the hugely-popular video game had infringed on the club’s trademark.

Multiple issues have reportedly been flagged up by Manchester United, including:

Use of the club’s name ‘extensively throughout the game’ and ‘replacing the club crest with a simplified red and white striped logo.’

The Manchester powerhouse argue that the latter in particular ‘deprives the registered proprietor of its right to have the club crest licensed.’

United’s court case

A preliminary remote hearing regarding the case took place yesterday, with Manchester United barrister Simon Malynicz QC having led the charge.

The Guardian have since provided an insight into proceedings, with some of Malynicz’s key arguments having included:

”The name ‘Manchester United’ is one of the world’s most valuable and recognised brands”.’

‘The money clubs made from licensing their names and logos was “very 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”.’

‘In relation to the alleged infringement of the trademark on United’s logo, Malynicz added that “consumers expect to see the club crest next to the name Manchester United … and this failure to do so amounts to wrongful use”.’

‘He accepted this argument was “somewhat novel, and certainly in the context of video games, but it is certainly arguable.’

Sega and Sports Interactive, for their part, unsurprisingly took the stance that Manchester United have, since Football Manager’s inception in 1992, allowed use of the club’s name and logo ‘without complaint’:

‘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.’

Based on what we have learned so far, a tense and potentially lengthy legal battle now looks almost inevitable over the months to come.

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This article was edited by Josh Barker.