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PORTLAND -- The Cascadia Cup, created back in 2004 by soccer supporters to celebrate the rich rivalry between 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 between 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 expression.

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