MLS to meet with supporters groups over Cascadia Cup trademark tussle

The Cascadia Cup in Portland with the Timbers Army

Photo Credit: 
Craig Mitchelldyer

NEW YORK – Amid a growing controversy surrounding its intention to register the trademark of the nickname for one of its biggest rivalries, Major League Soccer intends to meet with leaders of the concerned supporters’ groups in the near future to reach a resolution.

The league released a statement on Thursday concerning the trademark rights to the Cascadia Cup, the rivalry series played between the Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps, indicating that the move is a protective measure for all parties involved.

“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,’” the statement reads. “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."

The league’s intention to register the Cascadia Cup trademark emerged earlier this week and almost instantly drew ire from some supporters in the concerned cities. A joint statement from the supporters’ groups from the three teams released on Thursday condemned the league’s effort to register the trademark, and insisted that all three supporters groups jointly oppose the league’s claim of ownership of the Cascadia Cup moniker.

The statement also says that the supporters have recently formed the Cascadia Cup Council, a group that has filed a US federal trademark registration application for the Cascadia Cup mark, with a registration application pending in Canada.

“Not only does the Cascadia Cup Council believe they rightfully own the trademark to Cascadia Cup,” the statement reads, “but they also are of the belief they are the appropriate entity to protect the mark from third parties that are unaffiliated with the supporters groups in the Pacific Northwest.”

Although the Timbers, Sounders and Whitecaps have histories dating back to the 1970s, the Cascadia Cup was created by the supporters groups of the three teams in 2004. Each team has won it three times dating back to the rivalry’s A-League and USL-1 days, with the Timbers winning the most recent incarnation during the 2012 MLS season (above).