Manchester United are suing those responsible for the Football Manager series for allegedly infringing its mark by using the club name “extensively throughout the match”.
The English Premier League club has taken legal action against Sega Publishing and Sports Interactive (SI), the publisher and developer of the popular football management simulation.
The club also claims that Sega and SI infringed their brand on their logo by not using the official Manchester United badge in the game, instead “replacing the club badge with a red striped logo and white simplified ”.
United says it “deprives the registered owner of his right to have the crest of the club certified.”
Sega and SI claim that the use of the club name is “a legitimate reference to the Manchester United football team in a football context” and has been used by Football Manager and its predecessor Championship Championship since 1992 “without complaint from the applicant “
The companies accused the club of trying to “prevent legitimate competition in the field of video games by preventing parties not authorized by the claimant to use the name of the Manchester United football team in these games”.
Manchester United’s lawyer Simon Malynicz QC said in a preliminary hearing on Friday that “the name” Manchester United “is one of the most valued and recognized brands in the world.”
He stated that the money that clubs earned from licensing their names and logos was “very important” and that “the products and services that are authorized by the applicant are associated with the winning culture of the club and the brand values ”.
Malynicz argued, with respect to the alleged trademark violation of the United logo, that “consumers expect to see the club’s coat of arms next to the name of Manchester United… and this omission amounts to unlawful use “
He admitted that this argument was “somewhat new, and certainly in the context of video games, but it is certainly defensible”.
The lawyer asked Judge Morgan to authorize the club to modify its claim against Sega and SI to include allegations involving “the practice of providing” patches “or” mods “, essentially downloadable files containing replicas of trademarks, which consumers then incorporate into the game. ”
Malynicz argued that Sega and SI “encourage” the use of patches provided by third parties “by promoting patch providers in various ways and, of course, they benefit directly by avoiding the need to license and increasing sales of their game. “
Roger Wyand QC, representing the defendants, opposed the club’s request to modify the request.
In their written defense against United’s claim, Sega and SI stated, “The plaintiff has acquiesced in the defendants’ use of the name of the Manchester United football team in the Football Manager game and cannot now complain. of such use. “
Wyand submitted that the “simplified” club badge used in the game was “one of 14 generic logo designs chosen at random by the Football Manager game engine each time a new game is launched” and ” clearly indicates that the use of [logo of] Manchester United does not hold an applicant’s license. “
Sega and SI have declared that preventing them from using the name Manchester United “would amount to an unreasonable restriction of the right to freedom of expression to restrict the use of the words” Manchester United “to designate a team in a video game” .
Wyand noted that “copies of the game have also been sent by SI to a number of officials and players [club] for a number of years and there have been a number of positive press comments and tweets about the game from them. “
He added: “In addition, the claimant’s staff working in the data analysis and screening teams contacted SI several times to request access to the Football Manager database for screening and testing purposes. research. “
The QC concluded “that there is no risk of confusion or damage to the plaintiff’s European Union marks … caused by the activities of the defendants”.
Morgan reserved judgment on United’s request to modify its request at a later date.