Why Manchester City is being sued by Superdry

Manchester City players wore modified training clothes for Sunday’s pre-match warm-up following a High Court trademark infringement claim by fashion brand Superdry.

Last week it emerged that City were being sued for damages over the use of the words Super Dry – a type of beer sold by one of their main sponsors, Asahi – on their training kit.

Some immediate implications emerged: until Wednesday 3 January, the day the Superdry complaint was first reported by Law360, City players wore bibs, sweatshirts and coats reading ‘Asahi Super “Dry” ‘ in training and before matches.

Since the middle of last week, however, and including the warm-up before the FA Cup match against Huddersfield Town on Sunday, the players’ clothing has been changed to “Asahi 0.0%”.

City wore training shirts without ‘Super “Dry”’ branding at the weekend (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

But with Superdry, the UK-based clothing brand, also seeking an injunction and financial damages, and even the option to ‘destroy’ City’s ‘Super “Dry” branded training equipment, there will be further developments to come.

Here, Atletico explains what we know so far and what could happen next.

What does Superdry want and why?

Superdry claims City is “unfairly benefiting” from “riding the wave of… well-known Superdry registrations” and claims its brand could be “tarnished” by poor quality clothing sold by City.

It also claims that there is a possibility that its brand is being influenced by “negative perceptions or preconceptions of Manchester City Football Club in the minds of, for example, fans of rival football clubs” and claims that the use of the Super “Dry” brand by part of the club could cause “damage to Superdry’s reputation.”

Superdry said that “the appearance of the (training) kit is likely to cause a substantial number of members of the British public to believe that the (training) kit is an item of clothing designed or sold by (Superdry).”

As a result, the brand is seeking financial compensation from the City. According to court documents, it is “unable to quantify the exact financial value of this claim at this time,” but intends for such damages to “include…any unfair profits made by the infringer as a result of the infringement.”

The value of City’s training kit sponsorship with Asahi was not made public, although it was reported that the club’s previous partner, OKX, paid $20m (£18.5m) for the 2022 season -23 and therefore hypothesized that the new agreement would be included. with similar bracket.

City players wear Super ‘Dry’ training clothing at the end of December (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Superdry claims that City “substantially profited” from the branding sponsorship deal on the training kit and that it “engaged in… infringing activity knowingly and/or with reasonable grounds to know that Superdry was a well-known clothing brand” who had not given his permission.

In November 2023, Asahi won an award from marketing agency The Drum for a campaign which aimed, according to an article on The Drum’s website, to “elevate the status of the training kit and instill it with the same level of pride and symbolism of “the home uniform and the away uniform.”

After accepting the award, Asahi said the campaign, which featured Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones among others, was the most engaging sponsorship content of City’s season so far, achieving 19 .87 million views and 428,000 interactions worldwide. means of social communication.

Superdry also asked the court to stop City from using or selling any items bearing the phrase ‘Super “Dry”’ and to either transfer all such items to the company or “destroy or modify them”.

What else is in the court documents?

In documents submitted on December 15 and viewed by Atletico — Superdry aims to highlight its popularity as a brand, highlighting its 98 UK stores, several well-followed social media pages and awards won, as well as listing celebrities such as David Beckham, Neymar Jr and Kylie Jenner who have worn its clothes.

He also cited collaborations with rock bands Metallica, Sex Pistols, Iron Maiden and Motley Crue.

City players Julian Alvarez, Jack Grealish, Erling Haaland, Kyle Walker and Oscar Bobb are also shown wearing training clothes emblazoned with “Super “Dry” by Asahi branding, specifically “Super “Dry” Asahi 0.0%”.

Superdry claims that some photos demonstrate that not all writing will always be visible due to “various factors such as the viewing angle and physical posture of the wearer”. One of the photos shows Haaland inadvertently covering up much of the “Asahi” logo on her workout shirt.

The brand also provides examples of its clothing where the words “Super” and “Dry” are stacked on top of each other, as is the case with City’s Asahi clothing.

It appears City have already made changes to their training equipment. On Wednesday, the club posted a photo of women’s team forward Khadija Shaw in training wearing a half-zip that read “Asahi 0.0%.” More images of male players wearing clothing with the same brand appeared on Thursday.

The last time the ‘Super “Dry”’ branded garments were publicly visible was during the Premier League match against Sheffield United on 30 December.

The city has not commented and it is unclear when it was made aware of the complaint against them.

What are the implications for the City?

The city announced in July that the Asahi Super “Dry” beer brand will be featured on both men’s and women’s workout apparel through 2023-24.

In a statement released at the time, they said: “Since the start of the partnership, the Asahi Super Dry brand has been integrated into a number of different areas, including the rebranding of the Asahi Super Dry Tunnel Club and a wider product rollout cutting edge. technology throughout the Etihad Stadium to offer City fans the unique Japanese super dry taste.”

This statement refers only to training clothing rather than the club’s offering of hospitality in the City tunnel.

Although the Super “Dry” brand belongs to Asahi – and is a registered trademark in relation to beer advertising rather than clothing – City found themselves in the middle of the complaint because they owned and sold the product bearing the disputed wording.

There is no set date for any further court hearings and it is unknown when a resolution will be reached.

Superdry, Asahi and Manchester City all declined to comment.


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(Top photo: Getty Images)