After months of debate it appears the ownership of the Cascadia Cup trademark is moving closer to resolution.
The dispute between Major League Soccer (MLS) and supporters groups began when the former decided upon registering the trademark. The league and supporters groups of the Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers have each filed trademark applications with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and the US Patent and Trademark Office, respectively.
It appears the MLS is backing down, as commissioner Don Garber said during halftime of the Seattle Sounders’ opening match of the season that “it’s their trademark, it’s not our trademark”.
Mr. Garber said: “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.”
MLS has always insisted it is attempting to gain the trademark to protect the competition from any misuse from outside parties and believes it is the proper entity to protect it. However, supporters have been concerned about losing control of a term they coined in 2004.
The three teams started up in the 1970s and each of them has won the trophy three times dating back to the A-League and USL-1 days. Portland Timbers won the cup most recent during the 2012 MLS season.
In order to express a unified legal argument on the case, the supporter groups of the three teams have created the Cascadia Cup Council. The group claims the cup’s history predates the teams’ involvement in MLS competition by five years.
Mr. Garber has acknowledged the MLS could have handled the situation better but still believes it is in the best position to protect the trademark because its what the company does for a living.
“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. We’re confident that our continued discussions will be productive, and in a positive way, we’re very confident about that,” he added.