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Manchester United sues Sega over Football Manager trademark use

Sega and developer Sports Interactive reply that club's name, logo have been used since 1992 "without complaint"

Manchester United is suing Sega and developer Sports Interactive over the use of the club's name and logo in Football Manager, accusing the companies of trademark infringement.

As reported by The Guardian, the English football club attests that Sega and Sports Interactive are infringing trademark by using a "simplified" version of its official crest in the game, which "deprives the registered proprietor of its right to have the club crest licensed."

It accuses 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."

In a preliminary remote hearing, Manchester United argued that the money made from licensing was "very significant," and that using an incorrect version of the logo next to the club's name was considered wrongful use.

Additionally, Malynicz requested that the claim be amended to include allegations against Sega and Sports Interactive regarding mods to the game that allow players to create and incorporate customized logos, including replica Manchester United logos, into the game -- a practice the publisher and developer encouraged.

In response, Sega and Sports Interactive claim that the logo and name are a "legitimate reference," and that both Football Manager and Championship manager have used the references since 1992 "without complaint by the claimant," and that copies of the game had been sent to officials and players of Manchester United for years to positive response.

"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," the companies wrote in their written defense.

Furthermore, the companies said that prohibiting them from using the 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."

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Rebekah Valentine avatar

Rebekah Valentine

Senior Staff Writer

Rebekah arrived at GamesIndustry in 2018 after four years of freelance writing and editing across multiple gaming and tech sites. When she's not recreating video game foods in a real life kitchen, she's happily imagining herself as an Animal Crossing character.

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