PORTLAND – The Cascadia Cup, created in 2004 by soccer supporters to celebrate the rich rivalry among clubs in Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, is now the unexpected center of a conflict between those groups and Major League Soccer.
It started when MLS intended to trademark the term “Cascadia Cup” in the United States and Canada, prompting outrage from the fans who named the yearly head-to-head competition among the Sounders, Whitecaps and Timbers, and gave it a stately silver trophy.
MLS claims it wants to protect the Cascadia Cup from outsiders looking to exploit it. The supporters fear that MLS itself will be exploiting the term.
The issue has Seattle’s Emerald City Supporters, Portland’s Timbers Army and Vancouver’s Southsiders banding together – something that on the surface appears a bit unusual given the competitive passion of the rivalry.
The groups have formed the Cascadia Cup Council to protect the rivalry’s name. And its spirit.
“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,” the group said in announcing its formation.
The council has already submitted its own application to trademark “Cascadia Cup” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The application was filed on Jan. 8.
MLS has not yet applied for the U.S. trademark, but has applied for the equivalent in Canada.
The Cascadia Cup was introduced in 2004 when all three teams were part of the United Soccer Leagues First Division. Fans pooled their money to buy the 2-foot-tall silver cup, which goes to the team that finishes with the best record in head-to-head matches.
The Cascadia Cup Council and MLS officials aired their concerns in a meeting earlier this week, which both sides said was productive.
“This week we had a constructive conversation with supporters of all three clubs involved in Cascadia Cup, and we look forward to continuing that dialogue in the weeks ahead,” MLS president Mark Abbott said.