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Sega Sued by Manchester United for Football Manager's Use of Club Name

Bullet Club

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Sega Sued by Manchester United for Football Manager's Use of Club Name

The Premier League club says its trademark has been infringed upon.

Manchester United, one of Europe’s top football clubs, has sued Football Manager series creator Sega Publishing and Sports Interactive (SI Games) for allegedly infringing on the use of its trademarked club name “extensively throughout the game” according to the Guardian.

The football club also alleged that SI Games infringed on their trademark by not using the actual Manchester United logo, and instead using a simpler default red and white logo.

Manchester United stated that this “deprives the registered proprietor of its right to have the club crest licensed.”

Sega and SI Games have rebutted by saying that the use of Manchester United’s name is “a legitimate reference to the Manchester United football team in a football context” and added that the club name has been used in the video game franchise since 1992, when it was known as Championship Manager, according to the Guardian.

Both sides of the lawsuit exchanged statements asserting their own control over or freedom to use the club name.

Manchester United lawyer Simon Malynicz QC stated that the club’s name is one of the most valuable brands in the world, adding that the money received from licensing is “very significant,” and that Sega’s use of the Manchester United name benefits their own properties.

“Consumers expect to see the club crest next to the name Manchester United,” Malynicz said, “and this failure to do so amounts to wrongful use.”

Malynicz asked Mr. Justice Morgan, the judge overseeing the lawsuit proceedings, to allow Manchester United to amend the claim against Sega and SI Games to include the use of patches and mods, arguing that the use of such modifications allows players to incorporate the Manchester United logo into their game without proper licensing.

Defense lawyer Roger Wyand opposed Manchester United’s attempts to amend their claim.

“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,” Sega and SI Games said in a written defence.

Sega and SI Games also added that efforts to prevent the companies from using the Manchester United name “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.”

Wyand also pointed out that SI Games and Manchester United have already established a mutually agreeable business relationship of sorts.

“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,” Wyand stated, adding “further, the claimant’s staff working in the data analytics and scouting teams have contacted SI on various occasions asking for access to the Football Manager database for scouting and research purposes.”

Justice Morgan has reserved his judgement on United’s proposal to amend its claim for a later date, the Guardian reported.

IGN has reached out to SI Games for additional comment.

Football clubs in Europe certainly do hold a vast amount of financial and political sway, much like American football clubs across the United States and other major leagues. Manchester United has in recent months come under increased pressure to address its rapidly growing debt, with the Guardian reporting the club’s debt had risen by £127.4 million to £429.1 million in the 12 months prior to March 31, 2020.

Sega’s Football Manager series has managed to establish itself as one of the top sports management games of its kind, and has only risen in popularity with the onset of shelter-in-place restrictions. Forbes recently reported that the game had reached 130,000 peak concurrent players, with a total weekly player count of 875,000.

Football Manager’s player database is also a widely lauded feature of the game -- so much so that real-world player scouts often use it to discover new and rising talent. Manchester United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer himself has credited the game for helping prepare him for running the club, according to Manchester Evening News.

Source: IGN
 
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Dec 25, 2018
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I guess SEGA are a Man City fan then, which goes well with me since I am one. Blue with Blue.

Does that make Nintendo a United fan? Given they made that exclusive Game Boy for them?

Next Year Sports Interactive....put some code in the game where the United CPU gets relegated no matter how well the player does. (playing as them or without)
 
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Beelzebubs

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Good. Sports Interactive customer service is terrible. Got both Football Manager 19 and 20 and neither of them worked at all. Used their tech support form many times and not had a single response from them.
 
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FACU to RONARID!!
GOOOOAAAAAL!!!


fuck licencing (up to a degree), give me fakes names, fake stadium names, fake race tracks (Le Sarthe)
 

Vawn

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Football ain't what it used to be either unfortunately.
Yeah it used be played by MEN in helmets, trying to kill each other. Now it's played by a bunch of pansies in short-shorts slowly kicking a ball around a big field with very little else happening.
 
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So Sega has a signed deal to use MU, but won't use the real logo some reason?

Or Sega doesn't have a signed deal and trying to skirt the issue by claiming MU is a generic term?

Not sure I understand.
 

Bojanglez

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So Sega has a signed deal to use MU, but won't use the real logo some reason?

Or Sega doesn't have a signed deal and trying to skirt the issue by claiming MU is a generic term?

Not sure I understand.
They (Sega and SI) are claiming that the use of the name Manchester United is not something that needs to be licensed, partly because it has been used in various media over the years unchallengedm.

Sega/SI do not have a Premier League license or a deal with the club directly and therefore they can not (and do not) use official club assets, such as the crest or representations of the kit.
 
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Bogroll

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I miss the days of Sensible Soccer, when developers could use real names without worry or repercussions. Scummy corporate entities. Football ain't what it used to be either unfortunately.
I watched ITV football classics this afternoon. Liverpool v Arsenal when Arsenal won 2 0 to win the title. After the game a quick interview with Tony Adams then the team lifting the trophy and then back to the studio for the presenter's to say goodbye. No fafin about for 2 hours talking bollocks about stats and watching endless replays. Then for the next 5 days plonkers talking about the game on the radio (Talk Sport)
Its become Americanised. Should be job done, fuck it off, next game.
 
Oct 26, 2018
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They (Sega and SI) are claiming that the use of the name Manchester United is not something that needs to be licensed, partly because it has been used in various media over the years unchallengedm.

Sega/SI do not have a Premier League license or a deal with the club directly and therefore they can not (and do not) use official club assets, such as the crest or representations of the kit.
MU might have a tough time if Sega/SI can pile up examples showing MU doesn't care about enforcing it.
 

Zenaku

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Just change the name in future games.

Mankfester Ufarted, here we come.
 

Ron Mexico

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If anything, you’ll see the next version refer to them as Manchester U or M. United. Happens already with Real Madrid, the German NT, the Brazilian leagues and some others.

The part in relation to mods is posturing and about as close to unenforceable as it gets.

(Or the other option of just negotiating with the club directly and advertising just like they did the Arsenal Edition)