Cleveland MLB team settles lawsuit with roller derby team over new Guardians name

Cleveland Guardians
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team, which is changing its name from the Indians to the Guardians, settled a trademark infringement lawsuit by a local roller derby team also named the Guardians.

Tuesday’s settlement permits both teams to use the name Guardians. It likely removes the final hurdle from the Major League Baseball team’s plan to change its name from Indians, which it has used since 1915.

In a joint statement, the teams said they had reached an “amicable resolution” to the Oct. 27 federal lawsuit filed by the roller derby team.

Terms were not disclosed. Intellectual property lawyers not involved in the case had said a resolution might involve a payment to the roller derby team.

In July, the Indians said it would change its name to Guardians following the recently completed 2021 season.

The American League team was responding to years of pressure from Native American groups and human rights activists that considered the Indians name racist and degrading.

There is precedent for two teams in the same city to share names. New York had baseball and football teams named the Giants from 1925 to 1957, for example, while St. Louis had baseball and football teams named the Cardinals from 1960 to 1987.

In its lawsuit, the coed roller derby team said it had used the Guardians’ name since 2013, and that having a baseball team with that name would cause confusion.

“Two sports teams in the same city cannot have identical names,” the lawsuit said.

Now they do.

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