Cleveland Guardians facing lawsuit over name change
Paul J. Dolan, Chairman/CEO of the Cleveland Indians, speaks during a press conference during the club's announcement of the name change to the Cleveland Guardians Karen Schiely via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Cleveland Indians will officially be known as the Cleveland Guardians beginning next season, but another team in the city wants to stop the change from happening.

The Cleveland flat-track roller derby team, which is also known as the Guardians, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday seeking to block the Indians from using their new nickname.

The Indians said in July that they were aware of the Guardians roller derby team, according to WKYC. The MLB franchise claimed it had taken the proper legal steps to secure use of the name, but the roller derby team’s federal lawsuit states otherwise.

“Major League Baseball would never let someone name their lacrosse team the ‘Chicago Cubs’ if the team was in Chicago, or their soccer team the ‘New York Yankees’ if that team was in New York — nor should they,” Christopher Pardo, the attorney representing the roller derby team, said in a statement. “The same laws that protect Major League Baseball from the brand confusion that would occur in those examples also operate in reverse to prevent what the Indians are trying to do here. By taking the name ‘Cleveland Guardians’ overnight, the Indians knowingly and willfully eviscerated the rights of the original owner of that name – the real Cleveland Guardians.”

Cleveland’s MLB franchise first filed a trademark for the name Guardians in the African island of Mauritius, according to reports. That step was said to be taken to keep the plans a secret and not distract from the 2021 season, but the derby team’s lawsuit said the approach was designed to take them by surprise.

“When given an opportunity to acquire all the Cleveland Guardians’ superior rights (including both Cleveland Guardians name and clevelandguardians.com domain), the Indians only offered to pay a nominal amount, likely no more than fifteen minutes of annual team revenue,” the lawsuit states.

Money usually wins out in these types of battles, and MLB and the Indians obviously have a lot more of that than a local roller derby team. The Guardians of MLB have already released several logos and a hype video, so there’s no way they’re going to turn back now.

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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