U.S. Soccer sued by U.S. Soccer Foundation regarding 'hijack' threat over trademarks

The U.S. Soccer Foundation has sued U.S. Soccer in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the two organizations couldn't settle their disagreement over the use of the foundation's name and logo.

The foundation is seeking a declaratory judgment -- asking the court to rule there is no infringement.

In a statement, the foundation noted the difference in its mission -- "to enhance, assist and grow the sport of soccer in the United States, with a special emphasis on under-served communities" -- and the federation's mission as the sport's national governing body.

The lawsuit follows a recent demand by the federation that the foundation cease using its name and logos. The complaint stated that "the USSF has threatened to hijack the Foundation's trademarks for its own use—likely in an effort to capitalize on lucrative business opportunities when the United States hosts the World Cup in 2026."

The foundation was founded in the aftermath of the 1994 World Cup when the U.S. organizing committee generated a profit of $50 million. The chairman of the organizing committee was Alan Rothenberg, who was U.S. Soccer president at the time. Current U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro, Sunil Gulati, the immediate past president, and Rothenberg are all listed on the foundation's board of directors.

"We were surprised and deeply disappointed by the USSF's demand that the Foundation cease using our word and logo marks after 25 years—a dictate that not only would deprive us of the enormous goodwill we've developed amongst the communities and children we serve, but effectively transfer it into the hands of the USSF," said Foundation president and CEO Ed Foster-Simeon. "The Foundation has consistently expressed our unwavering commitment to maintaining and building upon the 25-year relationship we've enjoyed with the USSF, but faced with their unreasonable demand we felt compelled to defend our brand and mission in order to preserve the important work we do for children across America."

The federation's demand comes as it has expanded its fund-raising efforts to help pay for programs. In an interview with SI.com's Grant Wahl, Foster-Simeon said the foundation was told the federation was seeking to raise $100 million for a national training center.

The foundation has granted more than $100 million to organizations to fund soccer programs and field projects in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
5 comments about "U.S. Soccer sued by U.S. Soccer Foundation regarding 'hijack' threat over trademarks".
  1. Wallace Wade, December 6, 2018 at 6:55 p.m.

    Time to choose sides! Are you with the banker’s and millionaires or do you have young players interests at heart? Are you grassroots soccer or corporate monopolies?  Time to act! 

  2. Bob Ashpole, December 6, 2018 at 11:28 p.m.

    I don't think I have ever heard of a situation like this involving related organizations and a history of 25 years of business dealings. Not to mention overlapping officials. USSF will have a difficult time claiming ignorance of what was going on for the last 25 years.

  3. andres felipe quiroga, December 7, 2018 at 11:27 a.m.

    Us soccer federation is a joke! They just want money that’s why they undermine the Latino community that will bring them a lot of talent, just see how many Latino players are in the mls final now (each team have a good amount) their coaches at the top level. It Latinos at all

  4. Paul Levy, December 7, 2018 at 6:09 p.m.

    This is reminiscent of the trademark litigation between the NAACP and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund that happened after the two had a parting of the ways.

    Here is the way Judge Bazelon ended his opinion for the DC Circuit:

    "The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. share common ideals and a distinguished common heritage. History suggests that they were jointly responsible for the revolution in civil rights that led to and has been epitomized by the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The passage of time coupled with the reliance between the parties leads this court to conclude that laches bars the injunctive relief sought by the Association. These two great organizations, like brilliant but quarreling family members, must continue to share the NAACP initials with which they were born. The judgment is reversed. The case is remanded to the district court with directions that the suit be dismissed."

  5. R2 Dad, December 8, 2018 at 2:42 p.m.

    Wow, Carlos. Of all the battles you want to choose, THIS is the one you're going to mat on? REALLY? Remember this, voting members of USSF, when we hear about 'change", and "progress", and "all is well".

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