An interesting trade-mark battle is emerging between between Major League Soccer (MLS), and the Supporter Groups (SGs) for three of its franchises — Vancouver, Portland and Seattle. The battle is over the term ‘Cascadia Cup’, an award given to the best of those three teams, based on head-t0-head competition. For the uninitiated, one would think the MLS was in good standing to make such a claim; and obviously they thought so, filing their TM application with CIPO in mid-December.
The troubles begin when you look at the Cup’s origin; and consider that the Cascadia Cup:
- Was created by the three SGs, none of which are affiliated with MLS or the franchises they support;
- Was first given out in 2004 when all three teams played in the USL, not the MLS;
- Was not given out to any of the three MLS franchises until after Portland and Vancouver joined the league in 2011.
The SGs are, in turn, organizing their response, and one would assume a claim of opposition. They’ve also a created a new entity – the Cascadia Cup Council – to ensure the Cascadia Cup name remains under joint SG control. Which doesn’t seem that far fetched, when you consider that the Stanley Cup is owned by the Stanley Cup trust.
So, David v Goliath, what’s the little guy’s concern here? Proper ownership to begin with, I’m sure; but in these days of branding everything (including the grass) — the bigger danger is this. Admittedly, I’m not a TM lawyer, so I don’t claim to be able to judge the dispute on proper merits. But as a fan.. something seems wrong, so I find myself rooting for the Cup’s founders.