The management of football club “Manchester United” has filed a lawsuit against the Studio Sports Interactive and publisher SEGA. They are accused of misuse of trademark rights club in the series of football simulators Football Manager.
The claim is that in the series of games not using the official emblem of the club, instead of the game version team presents a simplified logo of red-and-white stripes. This, according to plaintiff, “depriving the registered proprietor the rights to the licensed use of the club emblem”.
For a preliminary remote hearing, the lawyer “Manchester United” said that consumers want to see the club’s crest next to the name of the command, and depriving them of this opportunity is tantamount to misuse. This argument the court regarded as “somewhat new”.
The plaintiff also dealt with user mods and patches that include replica brands. According to the lawyers, SEGA encourages this practice to Dodge licensing and to benefit from it.
Sports Interactive and SEGA, in response, explained that the “simplified” logo is just one of the templates, and it is randomly chosen at each run Football Manager. This should show that the official logo of Manchester United is not licensed.
At the same time, the prohibition to use the name Manchester United team in a computer game would mean an unjustified restriction of the right to freedom of expression.
Game series Championship Manager came out in 1992, and in 2004 Sports Interactive have revived it under the name Football Manager — rights to the original title remained with Eidos. The newest game in the series, Football Manager 2020, was released in late 2019 and at the time topped the sales charts.
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