The name change for Cleveland’s MLB organization from the “Indians” to the “Guardians” is getting a lot more messier.
A federal lawsuit has been filed on Oct. 27 by the area roller derby team against the baseball team over the name. The move has been made to block the former Indians from using the new “Guardians” identity.
The roller derby team “alleges the ball club shortchanged” them.
Talks in regard to the name usage had broken down on Oct. 26, one day before the lawsuit was filed.
Plans to retire the “Indians” name that has been used since 1915 for next year has already been announced this past summer.
From WKYC 3News Cleveland:
It’s been widely reported that the former Cleveland Indians baseball team filed its first trademark application to become the Guardians in April. The team’s paperwork was filed from the African island nation of Mauritius to help keep its plans a secret and allow it time to build a rebranding plan and finish the season as the Indians without distraction.
Christopher Pardo, the attorney representing the roller derby organization, says that the “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.”
The roller derby Guardians was taken aback by the baseball team’s actions:
“When the roller derby team complained to the Indians, the MLB franchise offered a truly nominal amount to buy the team’s intellectual property rights, including its social media accounts and the valuable www.clevelandguardians.com domain name,” Pardo said in a statement.
Gary Sweatt, the owner of the roller derby team, said in a statement the ball club “forced us into having to protect the name we have used for years.”
This form of protection now involves a lawsuit.
Sweatt did suggest to the now-former Indians the idea of a “buy out” in regards to the “Guardians” name so that his team can rebrand.
What he was offered was pretty much “a nominal amount, likely no more than fifteen minutes of annual team revenue” as mentioned in the lawsuit. That was quickly rejected.
As for the baseball Guardians, they “filed for name protection with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on July 23 (the day it announced the name change),” four days before the roller derby team did the same thing, according to Crain’s Cleveland Business.
The baseball organization has said they were “aware of the Guardians roller derby team” and took “the proper legal steps to appropriate the name.” The roller derby organization has alleged otherwise.
Despite filing for name protection after the former Indians organization did so, the roller derby organization says in their lawsuit they earned “common law” rights, because they have been using the same since 2013-14.
The roller derby Guardians last played in 2019, but does intend to resume action in 2022. They have not played this year and last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They also took to their Facebook account to announce the lawsuit, with many fans commenting in support of the roller derby organization.
No word on which team will get to play with the “Guardians” name come next year.
Some Cleveland baseball fans wants to see the “Indians” name back, but that may not happen.
There’s always the “Spiders.”
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Article Courtesy of WKYC 3News Cleveland
First and Second Picture Courtesy of Jason Miller and Getty Images
Post and Third Picture Courtesy of Facebook