Major League Soccer released a statement on its application to trademark “Cascadia Cup”:
“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.”
The issue at hand is who “owns” the competition. Seattle Sounders blogger Jeremiah Oshan of Sounder at Heart reminds his readers that “The trophy is jointly owned and was started by Emerald City Supporters, Timbers Army and the Southsiders prior to any of those markets having teams in MLS.”
In some ways, it’s similar to the Voyageurs supporters group handing over the Voyageurs Cup to the CSA for the corporate-sponsored Nutrilite Canadian Championship, although that decision was taken by the Voyageurs for a competition founded by the Canadian Soccer Association.
The Cascadia Cup was founded in 2004 by supporters from Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. MLS may be within its legal rights to seek copyright, but the competition was founded by fans, for fans. If MLS wins its copyright and then, say, sues a fan vendor for peddling unauthorized wares, it would signal an ugly new chapter in MLS corporate relations.
So far, Cascadia supporters only have the good word of MLS this decision was taken with the supporters in mind. That’s not really good enough.