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Football Manager makers sued by Manchester United over trademark use

Former Premier League kingpins Manchester United have filed a lawsuit against Football Manager.

No, not their own head coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but the beloved football management simulator made and published by Sports Interactive and Sega. United’s beef? Apparently the series infringes upon the club’s trademark by using its name “extensively throughout the game.”

The Old Trafford outfit’s legal eagles are also upset the game does NOT using the official club crest because it means the club can’t charge the folks behind FM a licensing fee. Instead the game features a “simplified red and white striped logo” and the Red Devils aren’t happy about the lost revenue.

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Sega and SI are holding firm on the matter, which is more than we can say for the United defence this season. The pair point out “Manchester United” has been used dating all the way back to the original Championship Manager series in 1992, and this is the first time the team has kicked up a fuss.

The duo says (via Guardian) it’s “a legitimate reference to the Manchester United football team in a football context without [previous] complaint by the claimant”

Sega and SI’s defence team also argues that preventing them from using the team 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.”

The defendants also say United have praised the game in the past and even helped out with compiling the extensive scouting and analytical data that makes FM such a realistic, deep simulation of real world football.

Should United emerge victorious, SI and Sega would probably have to licence the Manchester United trademark in order to continue using it, or go down the Pro Evo’ route and use a fake name like the “Reds of Manchester” or something equally preposterous. It’s also possible other clubs might seek reparations from Sega and SI too, setting a precedent and making it difficult for FM to maintain that longstanding authenticity moving forward.

You can see why United might by looking to make up the shortfall in income given the ongoing crisis that has kept football off screens and fans away from stadiums. The club confirmed this week its debt now stands at a whopping £429m.

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