Manchester United sues Sega, Sports Interactive for trademark infringement

Manchester United, the most decorated team in English football, has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Sega and Sports Interactive over the usage of its name in Football Manager.

Football Manager, which has been released annually since 2004 as the successor to Championship Manager that started in 1992, is a soccer simulator series that dives into the technical details of running a team. As the franchise nears 30 years, Manchester United decided to sue over the usage of its name in the game, The Guardian reported.

The soccer team also argued that with its crest replaced in Football Manager by a simplified logo, it is deprived of the right to have the crest licensed for the game.

Sega and Sports Interactive responded by pointing out that the name of Manchester United has been used since 1992 in Championship Manager without any complaint from the soccer team. Roger Wyand QC, who represents the publisher and developer, also argued that copies of Football Manager have been sent to the team’s officials and players for several years, and there have been no protests to the usage of the team’s name.

Meanwhile, in a preliminary hearing, Manchester United’s barrister Simon Malynicz QC said that Football Manager is benefiting from its association with the soccer team, and that people expect to see the team’s official logo next to its name.

Possible changes to Football Manager?

It is unclear why Manchester United decided to file a lawsuit after all these years, but as Eurogamer pointed out, the situation is similar to the fake team names in the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise. In the series from Konami, Manchester United has gone by the names of Aragon, Trad Bricks, and Man Red. There is a possibility that Football Manager will have to do the same thing.

However, in April, a judge allowed the usage of Humvees in Call of Duty games, dismissing a lawsuit by manufacturer AM General on the basis of realism in the portrayal of modern warfare. The ruling may mean that racing game developers could bypass securing expensive licenses for registered trademarks — could it have the same repercussions in games for other sports?

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