More than a year after United had first taken legal action based on trademark infringements, Manchester United’s legal tussle with Sega Publishing and Sports Interactive has finally come to a close.
Sega Publishing and Sports Interactive, the publisher and developer of popular football management simulation game Football Manager, were in a legal battle with Manchester United over extensive use of the club’s name. United claimed that Sega and Sports Interactive had infringed their trademark over the logo by not using the official Manchester United badge in the game and replaced it with a much simpler logo. United said it “deprives the registered proprietor of its right to have the club crest licensed.” The United representatives also said that their audiences expect to see the club’s crest beside the United name, and its failure would amount to wrongful use. Both the companies had retaliated by saying United was trying to “prevent legitimate 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.” Sega and Sports Interactive also claimed that their usage of the club’s name was legitimate, and they had been doing so since 1992, when the game was Championship Manager, without any complaints from the club.
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More than a year later, all parties involved have come to a mutual agreement that has settled this issue, and the contract will see players no longer be able to play Football Manager with Manchester United. From the 2022 edition of the game, the club will be renamed Manchester UFC or Man UFC. Speaking about the agreement, Sports Interactive released a statement that said, “Both parties are pleased to resolve this matter to their mutual satisfaction. This means that, from this year’s game onwards, Manchester United will be named ‘Manchester UFC’ or ‘Man UFC. These name changes have been made purely to settle the dispute on a no admissions basis. SEGA and Sports Interactive maintain that they do not need a licence to use the Manchester United name but have made the change as a gesture of goodwill so that both parties can move on.”
Current Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, has been vocal about being a big Football Manager fan and how he used to play it during his playing days at the club. Solskjær has also mentioned that the game has helped him become a better manager.
Aside from Football Manager, back in 2019, Manchester United had signed a deal with Konami to authentically appear in Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) 2022. The agreement also saw former United players David Beckham and Park Ji-Sung appear in the game while current United midfielder Scoot McTominay is an official ambassador for the game. Apart from PES, United has appeared authentically in EA Sports’ FIFA series.