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MLS Commissioner Don Garber eyes resolution to Cascadia Cup trademark issue

The Cascadia Cup in Portland with the Timbers Army

Photo Credit: 
Craig Mitchelldyer

SEATTLE — Months of both public and behind-the-scenes wrangling over the ownership of the Cascadia Cup trademark may be moving toward a peaceful solution.

Speaking to reporters at halftime of the Seattle Sounders’ season opener on Saturday, MLS Commissioner Don Garber made his most concessionary statements yet on the issue.

"It's their trademark, it's not our trademark,” Garber said. “So our goal is by meeting and talking about what our concerns are, that we could have a mutual agreement on what's best for that tournament.”

READ: Garber discusses TV ratings, expansion and Chivas USA struggles with Seattle media

The dispute over the trademark became public a couple months ago when it was revealed that both the league and supporters groups of the Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers had filed trademark applications on the term "Cascadia Cup." The MLS position has been that it only wanted to protect the trademark from misuse by parties unaffiliated with MLS, while supporters expressed concern over possibly losing control of a name they coined in 2004.

Supporters from the three clubs went as far as to create the Cascadia Cup Council, an entity designed to put forth a unified legal argument. The group's basis for their claim is the cup’s history, which predates any of the team’s involvement in MLS by five years.

Garber acknowledged some missteps and even expressed some admiration for the Cascadia Cup Council’s legal acumen on Saturday, but made it clear he still feels MLS has a significant role to play in managing the trademark and was not quite ready to declare the issue decided.

“We have confidence based on our discussions that we will be able to reach an agreement that will make sense, but we have not made a decision to drop our pursuit of the trademark at this point,” he said. “We're confident that our continued discussions will be productive, and in a positive way, we're very confident about that.”