Manchester United is suing the developers of the Football Manager series Sega and Sports Interactive over the use of its name in the popular football manager simulator game.
As first reported by The Guardian, the Premier League outfit believe that the long-running series is infringing its trademark. The club claims this as the crest has been replaced with a simplified red and white striped logo.
In defence, Sega and Sports Interactive say the use of the club’s name in the game is “a legitimate reference to the Manchester United football team in a football context” and has been used since 1992 “without complaint by the claimant”.
The game devs have accused the red devils of trying to “prevent legitimate competition in the video games field”.
Preliminary remote hearings began on Friday with a Manchester United barrister Simon Malynicz QC saying:
The name Manchester United is one of the world’s most valuable and recognised brands. Consumers expect to see the club crest next to the name Manchester United and failure to do so amounts to wrongful use.
Roger Wyand QC, representing Sega and Sports Interactive said:
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.
Wyand also argued that the ‘simplified’ club badge was “one of 14 generic logo templates that is randomly chosen by the Football Manager engine”. The prevention of using the Manchester United name, Sports Interactive say, “would amount to an unreasonable restraint on the right to freedom of expression to restrain the use of the words ‘Manchester United’ to refer to a team in a computer game”.
To conclude, Mr Wyand also acknowledges 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”.