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Cleveland Baseball Team Settles ‘Guardians’ TM Suit

Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team, formerly known as the “Indians”, announced it will move forward with plans to rebrand as the “Guardians” after settling a trademark lawsuit by a local roller derby team of the same name.

ClevelandPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

In the joint announcement, the teams described the deal as an “amicable resolution” that will allow both of them to use the “Guardians” name, coming only one day after the MLB team reportedly halted the planned sale of merchandise with the new “Guardians” name and logo.

The MLB team announced in July its plans to change the name after years of litigation in Canada over it’s Native American-themed nickname and racist mascot Chief Wahoo, amid a broader societal push for professional sports teams to stop using monikers considered racially insensitive.

Last month, Guardians Roller Derby, a nonprofit roller derby team, filed a trademark infringement lawsuit alleging the baseball team was using its size and history to steamroll it over use of the name, stating “there cannot be two ‘Cleveland Guardians’ teams in Cleveland.”

The MLB team said the “Guardians” name is inspired by the helmets worn by the art deco statues on the Hope Memorial Bridge that crosses the Cuyahoga River.

But GRD says it has been using the “Guardians” name in the Cleveland area since 2013. The MLB team’s planned jerseys also resemble that of the roller derby team’s, which uses a logo resembling the statues’ heads with winged helmets.

The roller derby team alleged that it had offered to sell its intellectual property to the MLB team, including the internet domain “ClevelandGuardians.com”, but it says the baseball team lowballed their offer and instead went forward with secret trademark registration applications.

The MLB announced a plan to transition to the Guardians name and branding following the conclusion of the 2021 season. While the season concluded earlier this month, the team is still using the “Indians” name online and selling merchandise as of Tuesday.

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Source: https://www.law360.com/articles/1440746/cleveland-mlb-club-settles-tm-suit-over-guardians-rebrand

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