MLS angers supporters with Cascadia Cup trademark stance

MLS angers supporters with Cascadia Cup trademark stance


by David Falk

I can still remember the excitement of getting the Cascadia Cup trophy in the mail back in early 2004. As quickly as I could I snapped a photo of the trophy against the ivy and stone backdrop of my backyard. Now that very same photo is being tweeted and retweeted by soccer supporters as they come to grips with the reality that Major League Soccer plans to proceed with trademarking this supporters rivalry cup.

It’s a cup MLS did not create and does not own, one born out of a rare moment of cooperation between enemy supporters of clubs with names that date back to 1974.

Back in 2004 I wrote:  Talked about for years, 2004 seems to be the season a cup will actually be awarded for the winner of regular season matches between the three clubs…Fans of all three clubs anticipate that 2004 will carry the same derby insanity previous seasons have. Now we will have added a cup to go with the madness. We know this soccer triangle rivalry is the hottest in the country. It has been since about 1974. We didn’t have anything to prove by giving it a cup. Except maybe that occasionally we can all agree a little bit—on something.

Now the Cascadia Cup, which has been awarded three times to each of the three supporters groups (Vancouver Southsiders, Emerald City Supporters, Timbers Army) over its nine years, is on the verge of becoming an official, sponsorship-ready promotional tool for Major League Soccer.

Cascadia Supporters and like-minded soccer souls are appalled and agreeing once again, on something.

The only thing that makes a sports team what it is is its fans. Owners may buy and sell; players and coaches may come and go; colors, kits and badges may change with the style of the times; stadiums may be renamed, renovated, or replaced. Only the fans may endow their teams with tradition, legacy, and meaning. —Andrew Wheeler

There should be little dispute as to who really owns the Cascadia Cup, after all. The trophy was created by the Emerald City Supporters, Timbers Army and the Southsiders back in 2004 when they were supporting USL teams. Those three groups paid for and own the physical trophy, decide the rules by which it will be won and have always claimed it as their own. Until last season, there was almost no effort made by MLS to promote it in anyway. —Jeremiah Oshan

Somebody’s going to have to blink, aren’t they? Surely MLS will see sense and walk away rather than take their attempted theft to a legal battle… but then again, Don Garber just went on the record accusing his league’s supporters of potentially selling out. If they’ll stoop to hypocrisy that low, where won’t they go to try and save face? There’s just no way of knowing, but the whole thing disturbs the hell out of me. How on earth did it come to this? What twisted logic is at work in New York City for MLS to take things to this point? —Benjamin Massey

When it comes to never forgetting even the most trivial of things, US soccer supporters groups rank just behind bitter divorcing trophy wives with high-powered attorneys and major assets to mull over. Not only do we three supporters groups remember the past, we celebrate it. We go to great lengths to honor our collective history, one that goes back to the 1970’s, which (if my math is correct) has a bit more historical timeline to it than MLS itself. —Andrew Brawley

Seattle supporters get the Cup back in 2006 in what has become Cascadia tradition: one supporters group handing the trophy over to the new winners, who will hold it for the year. (Jenni Conner)
Seattle supporters get the Cup back in 2006 in what has become Cascadia tradition: one supporters group handing the trophy over to the new winners, who will hold it for the year. (Jenni Conner)

Officially, the Cascadia Cup Council has released this statement:

Cascadia Supporters Groups Jointly Oppose Major League Soccer’s Claim of Ownership of Cascadia Cup Trademark

Portland, OR., Vancouver, B.C., Seattle, WA. — January 10, 2013 — The supporters groups in Seattle, Portland and Vancouver jointly oppose Major League Soccer’s claim of ownership of the Cascadia Cup trademark. The three supporters groups have jointly used the Cascadia Cup mark for many years and have been the rightful owners of the mark.

In response to recent statements and actions by MLS, the supporters groups recently formed a new entity, the Cascadia Cup Council, which acquired the supporters’ groups trademark rights in the Cascadia Cup mark.The Cascadia Cup Council will ensure that the mark remains in the hands of the very supporters who created it.

The Cascadia Cup Council recently filed a U.S. federal trademark registration application for the Cascadia Cup mark, and a registration application will likely be filed in Canada as well. The Cascadia Cup Council also intends to formally oppose Major League Soccer’s attempt to register the trademark that the public recognizes as a fan-created competition that predates Major League Soccer in Vancouver, Portland or Seattle.

Not only does the Cascadia Cup Council believe they rightfully own the trademark to Cascadia Cup 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.

I have been tweeting old Cascadia Cup photos in recent days, using the hash tag #grandtheftcascadia. 

Seeing these old shots reminds me of how far soccer in the Northwest has come.

Seeing MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s insensitive comments Thursday reminds me of how much could yet be lost.

Seattle's Fremont troll guards the Cascadia Cup. Now is the time for supporters to do the same. (David Falk)
Seattle’s Fremont troll guards the Cascadia Cup. Now is the time for supporters to do the same. (David Falk)

7 thoughts on “MLS angers supporters with Cascadia Cup trademark stance

  1. Amen! BTW I LOVE the pic of the Cup resting on the Fremont Troll. That’s two blocks from my house. How ironic that MLS is TROLLing the Cup when they have no right to. I’m glad the collective supporters’ groups have taken a (highly unneccessary!) stand against the league. The truth will prevail…

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