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BrunoTiagoAra

Manager of Football: Rights

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Hello

Right now I'm developing a game like Football Manager for Android platform.

Can I use real names of competitions, players and teams ?

Thanks for your help

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I would guess not. Unless you pay a rather large license fee to fifa/pfa/fa etc.

I think you would be ok allowing your end user to edit the data in your game like PES.

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It depends on your usage.


The key facet is if the information is purely functional or if it has secondary meaning.

If the usage is purely functional, and has no other secondary meanings or importance, it is a generally acceptable use. However, as always, you can be sued for any reason.

The oft-cited example is a telephone directory. The information is purely functional. It is an alphabetic list of names and numbers. The information itself is not protected; feel free to use the information to help make your own phone directory. The exact details of the directory has many non-functional components, such as the page layout and fonts and spacing and such; that is protected.


Since I have no idea what your app actually does, let's assume your "Football Manager" program displays stats and seasonal sports brackets with this year's rankings. You can include the names of the teams, no problem. Anyone can make a simple functional list of the names of the teams in a league. The tricky part comes when adding additional information that has secondary meanings. Including team stats and player stats is likely okay if you keep the numbers purely functional; they are factual numbers that anyone can find or compute. There is some risk if the information is not purely functional: total points scored and number of penalties are simple public facts, the rankings assigned by a major organization can be protected for many uses. Using a player's name and a photo you took yourself for functional purposes (like tying a name to a face) is generally okay as they are a public figure. Public figures have special rules about using their names and likeness because they make money from them; you can use them for identification and commentary but not for much more. You should be fine with a single picture per player that you took yourself or have otherwise licensed, and as long as your photo has no other trademark or IP violations in it.

Team logos, team colors, and their identifying marks are non-functional information. Don't use them.



There is a very fine line between what is functional and what is not. There is an extremely low bar to prove secondary meaning. As mentioned above with the telephone directory just because the raw information is unprotected does not mean the pages of the phone book itself are unprotected. It is very easy to accidentally cross the line and subtleties are extremely important. That is why lawyers are almost always recommended.


Using more than that public raw information quickly start to cross the line into secondary uses that require permission and licenses. The more features you add based on the actual teams and players, the more you move into secondary meaning of the individual brands. Making use of their brands or names and likeness for a sports game absolutely requires permission.

If you are unsure or are losing sleep over it, you should talk with an IP lawyer familiar with sports teams.

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Aren't football team names trademarked? If they are, using them as you plan is likely to need a license.
Repurposing trademarked names for something else that doesn't cause confusion (e.g. fictional gangs in a crime game: the "Pittsburgh Steelers" might be mechanically sophisticated bikers) could be considered an harmless joke, but using the same name for the same thing (a football team) is a collision course second only to a real-life football team.

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Hello

Right now I'm developing a game like Football Manager for Android platform.

Can I use real names of competitions, players and teams ?

Thanks for your help

No, not without a license from the NFL, but you could probably get away with having a feature where fans of your game could make a file that would load the names, and the like, into people's copy of the game...

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Aren't football team names trademarked? If they are, using them as you plan is likely to need a license.
Repurposing trademarked names for something else that doesn't cause confusion (e.g. fictional gangs in a crime game: the "Pittsburgh Steelers" might be mechanically sophisticated bikers) could be considered an harmless joke, but using the same name for the same thing (a football team) is a collision course second only to a real-life football team.


As mentioned, you can still use trademarks in a purely functional way.

It is fine to simply list all the teams. It is fine to name them for commentary or discussion for the limited use that it is necessary for the communication. A sports bracket is a great example of this. You can seed the bracket with real team names and be just fine.

It is NOT fine to use them for your own creative (non-functional) purposes. The more you use the names and marks, the less likely that use is purely functional and the greater the risk of legal action.

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