Why Manchester United Sued Video Game Maker Sega

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Manchester United has taken popular video game maker Sega and its partner Sports Interactive (SI), the makers of Football Manager, to court for not using the club’s crest appropriately. and for using the name of the club extensively throughout the game.

In the first hearing of the case through a video conference call on Friday, the lawyer of Manchester United, Simon Malynicz QC, argued that Sega and SI did not use the official crest of Manchester United in Football Managers simulation, instead, the official crest of the club was replaced with a simplified version of the crest.

Simon also argued that the companies intentionally decided to use the simplified version of the crest so that Manchester United would not be able to get royalties from the use of the crest.

“Replacing the club crest with a simplified red and white striped logo… deprives the registered proprietor of its right to have the club crest licensed”, Simon said while arguing the Trademark infringement suit against Sega and SI.

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

The Manchester United barrister urges the court to permit him to amend the suit against the companies in order to add that Sega and SI made it possible for the users of their football management simulation to download patches of replica trademarks which has increased the sales of the game.

Sega and SI “encouraged” the use of patches supplied by third parties “by promoting the patch providers in various ways and, of course, they directly benefited from it by avoiding the need to take any licence and enjoying increased sales of their game”, the barrister added.

On the parts of the defendants, their representative Roger Wyand QC argued that the companies have been using the club’s name as “a legitimate reference to the Manchester United football team in a football context” since 1992 and there has never been a complaint from the club.

He said the game is design in such a way that whenever user access it, it gives different formats of clubs logo and the companies have always given the staff of Manchester United access to the database of the game which the club uses for the purpose of scouting.

Roger thereby accused Manchester United of trying to make the video game market less competitive through their trademark infringement suit. He urged the presiding judge Justice Morgan not to permit the club to amend the suit.

The presiding judge adjourned the case to an undisclosed date which would also be used to decide whether to allow Manchester United to amend the suit or not.

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