Manchester United Football Club are currently embroiled in a legal battle with the makers of popular video game, Football Manager.
Football Manager is a sporting management simulation video game compatible on a wide variety of electronic devices. The video game’s first version was released in 2005, since then, the game has been hugely successful, breaking into the top 5 fastest selling PC games, the franchise has seen continued year on year growth.
The aim of the highly immersive game is to play the role of a club manager, whether you’re a Pep Guardiola tiki-taka fanatic or fancy yourself as a disciplinarian hair drying Sir Alex Ferguson, the virtual world of Football Manager has something for every kind of football enthusiast.
However, despite the success Football Manager are enjoying, Sega, the publishers and developers Sports Interactive have found themselves at the centre of a legal battle against real life Manchester United Football Club.
As reported by The Guardian, the basis for United’s grievances is they believe that Sega and Sports Interactive have knowingly infringed their trademark and club name”extensively throughout the game.”
The club believe that their logo has been used inappropriately in the game franchise, with the makers displaying a simplified red and white version of the famous crest.
Both companies have fired back at United by stating that their use of club name and logo is “a legitimate reference to Manchester United Football Club” having been used in Football Manager and its predecessor, Championship Manager since 1992 “without complaint by the claimant”.
Sega and Sports Interactive have also accused Manchester United of trying to “prevent 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”.
During an initial hearing which took place on Friday, Manchester United’s barrister Simon Malynicz QC defended the club’s stance by saying “the name ‘Manchester United’ is one of the world’s most valuable and recognised brands”.
Malynicz went onto say that the commercial revenue generated off the back off Manchester United’s name and logo was ”very significant” and ”the products that are licensed by the claimant benefit from an association with the club’s winning culture and its brand values.”
Roger Wyand QC, the defendants legal representative has stated that “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”. He went onto say ”“there is no likelihood of confusion or damage to the claimant’s EU trademarks caused by the defendants’ activities”.
Sega and Sports Interactive are believed to remain firm in their defence that the logo used in-game is not an official trademark of Manchester United and that by seeking to obstruct the use of a simpler version of Manchester United’s logo prevents freedom of creativity.
Legal proceedings are expected to continue with both parties seemingly adamant that their counter arguments are strong enough to reach a positive conclusion.
We wonder what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thinks about this…