United to sue Football Manager makers over name usage

Alex Turk

Manchester United is to sue the makers of Football Manager for alleged infringements of its trademark.

Legal action has been taken against the popular simulation game's publisher Sega and developer Sports Interactive due to 'extensive' use of the club's name.

United's issues extend to the game 'replacing the club crest with a simplified red and white striped logo', claiming it 'deprives the registered proprietor of its right to have the club crest licensed'.

"The name 'Manchester United' is one of the world's most valuable and recognised brands," said United's barrister Simon Malynicz QC at a preliminary remote hearing on Friday.

He argued: "Consumers expect to see the club crest next to the name Manchester United, and this failure to do so amounts to wrongful use."

However, Malynicz admitted his case was 'somewhat novel, and certainly in the context of video games', with Sega and Sports Interactive also having their say on the matter.

The makers of Football Manager have fought back, stating the use of the club's name is a 'legitimate reference to the Manchester United football team in a football context.'

They were also quick to point out the club's name has been used in both Championship Manager and Football Manager titles since 1992 'without complaint.'

Both Sega and Sports Interactive proceeded to accuse United:

"The claimant is preventing legitimate competition in the video games field by preventing parties not licensed from using the name of the Manchester United football team with such games."

It's an utterly bizarre story, but Sega and Sports Interactive have a point and had the right to mention the club's allegiance with Pro Evolution Soccer.

Why is it now that United are forging an attack for the use of the club's name? It's rather convenient timing, given Ed Woodward revealed a serious drop in revenue and increase in debt earlier this week.

Be sure to watch this week's Late Night Live, in which Stretford Paddock's Joe Smith addresses Manchester United's decision to sue the makers of Football Manager: