Cleveland Guardians Roller Derby Team Aims to Block Baseball Team From Using Same Name

A Cleveland-based roller derby squad known as the Guardians is aiming to block the city's Major League Baseball team from using the same name.

WKYC first reported the lawsuit Wednesday, in which the roller derby team argued there can only be one Cleveland Guardians team in the city and they were there first.

"Two sports teams in the same city cannot have identical names," the lawsuit said. "Major League Baseball would never permit 'Chicago Cubs' lacrosse or 'New York Yankees' rugby teams to operate alongside its storied baseball clubs and rightly so. Confusion would otherwise result."

The roller derby team said it has so-called "common law" trademark rights of the name based on priority of use in Ohio that dates back to 2013. It also has pending federal trademark applications for the name "Cleveland Guardians" and their logo of a winged man.

"The same laws that protect baseball team owners' trademark rights, though, also work in reverse," the lawsuit said. "A Major League club cannot simply take a smaller team's name and use it for itself."

The city's Major League baseball franchise was known as the Cleveland Indians for more than 100 years, but announced it was changing its name in 2020 amid a nationwide reckoning over racial injustice.

Team owner and chairman Paul Dolan said the club's identity change was spurred by discussions and meetings with groups, including Native Americans, who deemed the name racist and offensive.

On July 23, the baseball club unveiled its new identity to the public: the Cleveland Guardians. The name is set to go into effect starting next season.

Cleveland Guardians Roller Derby Files Lawsuit MLB
A Cleveland-based roller derby squad known as the Guardians is aiming to block the city's Major League Baseball team from using the same name. In this photo, Yu Chang of the Cleveland Indians, soon to be the Cleveland Guardians, rounds the bases against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field on October 3, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. Tim Warner/Getty Images

"In searching for a new brand, we sought a name that strongly reflects the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders. Guardians embodies those defining attributes while drawing upon the iconic Guardians of Traffic proudly standing just outside Progressive Field on the Hope Memorial Bridge," Dolan wrote in the announcement. "It brings to life the pride of Clevelanders take in our city and the way we stand for each other while defending our Cleveland baseball family."

The baseball team filed its first trademark application for the new name in April from the African island nation of Mauritius to keep the process under wraps until its official announcement.

In the lawsuit, the roller derby team asserted filing from Mauritius was an attempt to hide their plans from them.

The roller derby team also said in its lawsuit that their talks with the Major League Baseball franchise have recently broken down.

Newsweek reached out to Major League Baseball for comment on the roller derby team's lawsuit but didn't receive a response before publication.