The MLB team in Cleveland, which recently announced it would change its name from the Indians to the Guardians after this season, was sued by a roller derby team for using the Guardians moniker.
The Cleveland Guardians, a coed roller derby team that has held the name since 2013, sued Cleveland's baseball team in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio on Wednesday over trademark infringement, according to the lawsuit obtained by the Washington Examiner.
The roller derby team registered its name in 2017, though it has sold a variety of merchandise under the mascot since 2014, according to the lawsuit.
"A Major League club cannot simply take a smaller team's name and use it for itself," the lawsuit says. "There cannot be two 'Cleveland Guardians' teams in Cleveland, and, to be blunt, Plaintiff was here first."
Cleveland's baseball team announced in December 2020 it would drop "Indians" from its name after years of activists and Native Americans arguing the mascot was offensive. The franchise filed a request in April to use the name Guardians.
The trademark application was "surreptitiously" filed in the island of Mauritius, located in the Indian Ocean, showing the franchise was "effectively hiding the application," the lawsuit said.
The franchise then contacted the roller derby team on June 10, saying it was "considering" using the name, the lawsuit said. After that, the franchise asked the roller derby team to send over photos of the Guardians logo.
Days later, the roller derby team requested that if the Cleveland Indians wanted to use the name, it would need to buy the rights. The roller derby team was offered a "nominal amount," the lawsuit said.
The MLB team announced on July 23 it would undergo a name change from the Indians to the Guardians, taking effect after the 2021 season.
"We have been and continue to be confident in our position to become the Guardians," said a statement obtained by the Washington Examiner from a representative for the Cleveland Indians baseball team. "We believe there is no conflict between the parties and their ability to operate in their respective business areas."
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Original Author: Elizabeth Faddis
Original Location: Roller derby team sues Cleveland's MLB team over name change to Guardians