Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians, which are changing their name to the Cleveland Guardians, were sued for trademark infringement on Wednesday by the Guardians Roller Derby team over the new name.
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The co-ed roller derby team, also based in Cleveland, said “two sports teams in the same city cannot have identical names,” and a major league club cannot take a smaller team’s name for itself.
“There cannot be two ‘Cleveland Guardians’ teams in Cleveland, and, to be blunt, plaintiff was here first,” the complaint filed in Cleveland federal court said.
The roller derby team, which said it has used the Guardians name since 2013, is seeking an injunction against the Indians and other remedies.
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The Indians did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The team has said it would change its name to the Guardians following the 2021 season, responding to criticism from Native American groups that had viewed the Indians name, in use for more than a century, as disparaging.
There have been occasions when teams in the same city shared names. For example, New York had baseball and football teams named the Giants from 1925 to 1957, while St. Louis had teams in those sports named the Cardinals from 1960 to 1987.
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