Will Kuhns, bless his heart, is hewing to the party line:
“We applied for trademark with the fans’ interest in mind. We want to be in a position to protect that name from parties that might be unaffiliated with our fans, our clubs or the league,” said Will Kuhns, MLS director of communications. “That’s basically why we did it.”
Source: Oregon Live
Thank you, sports marketing organization, for protecting our rights in such a way. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that the mark holder is entitled to use the mark in commerce (i.e. sell merchandise featuring the mark). There’s also that small issue that MLS wouldn’t have to trouble themselves over any sort of pesky licensing arrangement with the owner of the trademark if they owned it themselves.
And, as I said in the original post about this, what third party outside the community of interest is going to try to co-opt the mark with any success? Are we talking about international knockoffs for a product that faces unyielding “your ‘soccer’ is crap” attitudes? Because that doesn’t seem like a money-maker.
I have seen a fair whack of comments that say “if the SGs were worried about this, why didn’t they trademark it themselves?” I’ll admit that it was naive to think that such measures would be unnecessary, but this comes down to the essence of fan culture. Supporters aren’t looking to turn a profit. For the most part, the SGs raise money to create art or do good work in the community. To the extent that things like the Cascadia scarf exist, they exist to raise money for the causes listed above.
We see our history, a competition that is about bragging rights and club pride, and the continuing rivalry among clubs in the northwest. MLS sees a lucrative and compelling brand that they can use to make money for their stakeholders. One of these things is not like the other. So yes, we didn’t apply to register the trademark. But that does not mean MLS gets to, whether for the completely nonsense reason of “protecting us,” or for the real reason of monetizing us.
In short, back away from our identity, you vultures.
Oh MLS, oh MLS, take another bong hit…
The notion that MLS has the right to trademark the term “Cascadia Cup” in Canada (or anywhere else) is ludicrous. There, that’s out of the way.
Now, to business. We have two months from the date of advertisement (the date the application appeared in the Trademarks Journal – so far it doesn’t appear that this application has been advertised, but I haven’t scoured all the issues since Dec. 19) to oppose the registration.
Any person (including foreign persons) has standing to oppose the registration of a mark, so long as they have a legitimate beef under Section 38 (linked above). In our case, the legitimate beef is that the Supporter’s Groups use of the term “Cascadia Cup” substantially pre-dates the date filed in MLS’ application. Also, the term (in soccer parlance) can only apply to the three-team competition between the Whitecaps, the Sounders and the Timbers. So MLS has no right to it (see above re: “ludicrous”)
While we’re going through the process of opposing registration in Canada (and, in theory, eventually applying for the trademark there), we also need to apply with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to register “Cascadia Cup.” It’s a shame that we have to do this, but if MLS is going to try to end-run their way around our intellectual property rights, we’re pretty much obliged.
While we’re going through this bullshit, each Supporter’s Group should probably also consider what sort of consolidated entity they want to maintain this kind of nonsense for each group and also for Cascadia as a whole.
I find it hard to stomach the fact that some portion of 107ist’s budget will now have to be applied to lawyers (says the lawyer), but it’s increasingly clear that we’re going to require legal ammunition to maintain our heritage in the face of MLS’ co-option attempts.
I’m hoping that all of this is old news to the board. I’m hoping that the groups already have their heads together and have found a trademark agent already. Because this is stupid, and it cannot stand.