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MLS will work on this whole Cascadia Cup trademark thing

Jan 10, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT

MLS Sounders Timbers Soccer

Earlier in the week, news leaked out that Major League Soccer had applied to trademark the phrase “Cascadia Cup” in Canada, and boy, oh boy did that set some wonderful people from the Pacific Northwest off.

And rightly so. The Cascadia Cup — the annual trophy given to the winner of the Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps triumvirate — existed before the three squads moved to MLS. It was, and continues to be, awarded by the rabid supporter groups, not the league or the ownership or anyone else. It’s the fans, and the fans alone.

That said, having a corporate entity (MLS) come along and provide some legal assistance might not be the worst thing in the world. There is — or at least there could be — commercial value in the name “Cascadia Cup.” I absolutely, 100 percent agree with the suporters groups that this is their thing. Still, is trademarking the name the worst thing in the world? No, not really if it’s done in the correct way.

MLS released a statement Thursday morning:

“With the interests of the MLS clubs in the Pacific Northwest and our fans in mind, Major League Soccer, applied for a trademark to the name ‘Cascadia Cup.’

A registered trademark would put Major League Soccer in a position to protect the brand from exploitation by parties unaffiliated with the League and its supporters. However, we understand that some of our fans have concerns about how the trademark will be managed, and we are planning to meet soon with leaders of the three teams’ supporters groups to discuss the topic together.”

As long as the league remembers who came up with the Cup, who built the rivalry, who made it all happen, we should be fine. Each group needs to have a little faith in the other one.

Elsewhere, Alexi Lalas has some smart thoughts on today’s edition of The Shot.

Should we watch Jack Jewsbury win the 2012 Cascadia Cup? Let’s do that:

  1. valiantdraws - Jan 10, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    I believe that Timbers Army, ECS, and Southsiders should jointly trademark it, because the TEAMS didn’t even start up this cup. The supporters did. So, HELL FUCKING NO, I do NOT believe that MLS should trademark this. It has nothing to do with them, period.

  2. dws110 - Jan 10, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    The Cascadia Cup has NOTHING to do with the league, other than scheudling games which would happen without the Cup. MLS has far, far overstepped their bounds on this one. Let MLS find some other way to peddle “Rivalry Week”, leave Cascadia alone.

    All three supporters groups OPPOSE the trademark claim by MLS and have formed a group to acquire US trademark rights.
    http://www.weareecs.com/2013/cascadia-supporters-groups-oppose-mls-cascadia-cup-claim/
    http://timbersarmy.org/cascadia-supporters-groups-jointly-oppose-major-league-soccers-claim-of-ownership-of-cascadia-cup-trademark
    http://vancouversouthsiders.ca/cascadia-supporters-groups-jointly-oppose-major-league-soccers-attempt-to-trademark-cascadia-cup/

    You ask us to have a little faith in MLS, that they somehow know the “correct” way to protect the Cup, when in actuality, MLS got caught with their hands in the cookie jar and now are backpeddling to try to cover their backs. This is a flat out attempt at theft by MLS and they’re busted. The supporters have been protecting the Cup since its creation. The supporters will continue to protect the Cup. It’s ours, always has been, always will be.

    MLS – HANDS OFF THE CASCADIA CUP!

  3. charliej11 - Jan 10, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    If someone like Nike started selling Cascadia Cup gear, what were the Supporter’s Groups going to do about it…….nothing. Powerless.

    It really doesn’t matter if you think MLS had some grand plan to make their millions off it at this point.
    They aren’t now. They won’t tick off the 3 best fans bases ( sorry to the rest of MLS if I offended ), which includes the massive amount of soccer’s greatest fans ( Sounders’ fans, no apology ).
    Not going to happen now.

    Soooo, this is a very good thing, no matter how cynical you are, no matter if you think MLS was going to kidnap babies in their grand scheme that was found out and revealed…….it is a good thing now.

    Be happy it went down this way.

    • dws110 - Jan 10, 2013 at 5:51 PM

      It is entirely incorrect to state that the supporters groups would be powerless to stop someone from selling Cascadia Cup gear. It would require additional work to establish the right to the brand, that’s all.

      I’d be surprised if anyone thought MLS stood to make millions off the Cup. Personally, I think MLS wants to use the term “Cascadia Cup” to advertise the matches (hence my earlier comment about peddling “Rivalry Week”), and to do so in such a way that they don’t have to offer the supporters groups anything in exchange. That is patently unfair to the supporters groups who created the Cup.

      I do think it was naive of the SG’s not to attempt to formally protect the brand before now, and maybe I’m naive as well, but I’m very surprised that MLS would attempt to claim something that isn’t theirs to claim, and the actual trademark application and official MLS response does nothing at all to convince me that this is anything but MLS getting busted.

      • charliej11 - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:17 PM

        Not really sure how a bunch of guys in the cheap seats with me are going to go up against. Nike, so yes, with all due respect, I think you are being a little naïve. MLS has the power of Nike wanting to work with them always.

        In my opinion, the SGs getting the patent was meaningless anyway. Owning a trademark means nothing, you have to be able to enforce it.

        I am ALL for the SGs owning this, but I think people might be jumping to conclusions about MLS. Maybe you are right, but I guess to me it doesn’t matter, the people have the power.

        I am not sure why you are against MLS advertising the CC, but if they shouldn’t then all the SGs have to do is protest and MLS will stop in seconds, IMHO. You disagree ?

  4. jelliot1978 - Jan 10, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    If MLS really wants to ‘Protect’ the trademark what they should do is encourage the three (or more) groups of supporters that created the name to trademark it. Then MLS licenses the trademark from them (possible at some low value) and that would enable MLS to ‘defend’ the trademark as they and the 3 teams are the only authorized license applicants outside of the supporters groups. It would allow the supporters to still do anything such as merchandise that they already make to proceed uninhibited.

    I know if the 4 NE team supporters (Union – my team, NYRB, NE and DC) decide to actually develop a cup i wouldn’t want to see MLS try to budge in on it. I remember the big kerfuffle with the NFL, Saints and New Orleans over trying to trademark ‘Who Dat’ as the NFL wanted to be the only profiteer off of the phrase. I don’t see MLS as bullheaded as the NFL in those regards but it would leave the door open for them to become like that.

    • jelliot1978 - Jan 10, 2013 at 5:33 PM

      I should add that as to Licensing to MLS that MLS is not authorized in the deal to produce any merchandise without the express consent of the (as I now know exists thanks to @dws110 and the links) Cascadia Cup Council.

      • valiantdraws - Jan 10, 2013 at 6:00 PM

        I second this…in full. And Charlie…take a few tries at googling copyright law. Nike would have no legal right to make Cascadia Cup gear, and it would simply take a competent lawyer to legally prevent them from doing so.

        BUT…the 3 supporters groups need to trademark it NOW. They have all the evidence to back up their claim to the Cascadia Cup, so they need to act ASAP.

      • charliej11 - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:23 PM

        Valiantdraw:
        I am not going to Google copyright laws, they don’t matter, it is all about being able to enforce and you are right it would have to go to court, where NIke has way too many lawyers on the payroll and us sitting in section 122-24 ?
        I disagree with having to trademark it now. MLS will give it to us for free, you have to agree with that ?

        I guess I think the people have the power already in this situation. Maybe I am the one that is naïve.

  5. charliej11 - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:46 PM

    Needless to say with all the worked up people right now, this is MLS’ time to shine.
    What an opportunity.

    They come in and say here is the gig, we have a TM and it is yours, we will enforce it and there are many of other benefits of having MLS involved. A fan at SounderatHeart spelled them out in a very interesting piece….you should read it if you care about this issue.

    Hopefully they will do that. As I said the people should have the power and if MLS screws with that…look out.

  6. valiantdraws - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    See, that’s exactly why I think MLS *would* respect the trademark…because they need Timbers Army and ECS more than they need MLS. Especially Timbers Army. Timbers drew more than many MLS teams when they were in USL, and there’s no way MLS wants to alienate a huge part of what increases the legitmacy of the league.

    Also, power to defend a trademark…something as cut and dried as distinct images and a name, with years of well-documented history, is easy for any lawyer to defend, and frankly, the damage to MLS would outweigh the efforts to hold onto it. I don’t believe that letting the supports groups have it for free means a thing, because it belongs to them ALREADY. MLS would be better off letting the SG’s trademark it, pay them a small fee to license it, and then cut the SG’s in on a portion of any revenue that resulted from using the Cascadia Cup in promotions or merchandise. ESPECIALLY because the teams have absolutely nothing to do with the creation of the cup.

    • charliej11 - Jan 11, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      I agree with you that is it is NOT MLS’ in any way shape or form, It is ours.

      I think we are on the same page overall too, just how much you trust MLS being the difference. I don’t trust them and you are way beyond me.

      I hope you agree, and I hope it is correct, the fans have the power and because of that the fans will be happy with the outcome.

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