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Manchester United Suing Football Manager Developers Over Trademark Infringement

Manchester United, the English Premier League football team, is filing a lawsuit against the developers of sports simulation game Football Manager. Specifically, they’re suing both Sega Publishing and Sports Interactive for infringing the club’s trademark.

Manchester United Have An Issue With Football Manager Not Licensing Their Logo

The core of Manchester United’s problem has to do with the use of the team’s logo in the game. Simply put, Football Manager has a team called Manchester United in the game. This team also has the same squad as Manchester United currently do when you start the game.

However, the game doesn’t use Manchester United’s official logo to represent them in the game. According to their complaint, the game replaces their actual emblem with “a simplified red and white striped logo”. This allegedly prevents Manchester United from licensing the trademark of their logo. In turn, that stops them from receiving the appropriate amount of licensing fees from anyone who wishes to use it.

Manchester United’s “Winning Image” Apparently Benefits Football Manager


The Guardian quotes Simon Malynicz QC, Manchester United’s barrister, as saying that using Manchester United’s name, even without the logo, benefits Football Manager’s publisher and developer. “The products and services that are licensed by the claimant benefit from an association with the club’s winning culture and its brand values,” he said.

On the other side of this, both Sega and Sports Interactive deny any infringement. Roger Wyand QC, who represented them, said the following in their defence: “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.”

Football Manager Uses Random Templates To Decide Certain Team Logos

Football Manager’s simplified version of Manchester United’s logo is apparently one of 14 generic templates. The game chooses a specific template randomly each time the player starts a new game. He also made the argument that preventing Football Manager from using the “Manchester United” name restricts the developers’ freedom of speech.

Mr Justice Morgan, who is presiding over this case, has reserved his judgement for a later date. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Not being able to use the “Manchester United” name definitely hurts Football Manager. Any football fan can attest to how well-known this team is.

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