Manchester Utd Sues Sega Football Manager Video Game Series

WTR reports

Manchester United kicks ball into court in “novel” claim – Late last week the mainstream media pounced on the news that Manchester United is suing the makers of the Football Manager video game series for allegedly infringing its trademark by using the club’s name “extensively throughout the game”.

The club launched legal action against Sega Publishing and Sports Interactive (SI) over the game, arguing that the two parties have infringed its trademark by not using the official Manchester United crest in the game – instead “replacing the club crest with a simplified red and white striped logo”.

As reported in The Guardian, the Premier League club claims this “deprives the registered proprietor of its right to have the club crest licensed”. The companies have accused the club of trying to “prevent legitimate competition in the video games field by preventing parties not licensed by the claimant from using the name of the Manchester United football team within such games”.

At a preliminary remote hearing on Friday, the club’s barrister argued that “consumers expect to see the club crest next to the name Manchester United … and this failure to do so amounts to wrongful use” – acknowledging that this argument was “somewhat novel”.

Sega and SI say the use of the club’s name is “a legitimate reference” to the Manchester United football team in a football context and has been used in the game  (and its predecessor) this way for almost thirty years without complaint. The day before the hearing, The Guardian also reported that Manchester United’s net debt increased by £127.4m to £429.1m in the 12 months to 31 March 2020, financial pressure which could go some way to explaining why it is laser-focused on the protection and exploitation of its brand. (TL)

Source: World Trademark Review