The newly named Cleveland Guardians were sued Wednesday by a co-ed roller derby team that goes by the same name.
The roller derby Guardians filed suit in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, requesting that the baseball team not be allowed to use the name.
“A Major League club cannot simply take a smaller team’s name and use it for itself,” the lawsuit said. “There cannot be two ‘Cleveland Guardians’ teams in Cleveland, and, to be blunt, Plaintiff was here first.”
Cleveland’s baseball team has yet to comment.
The roller derby team has called itself Guardians since 2013 and registered its name with the Ohio Secretary of State in early 2017, according to reports.
The baseball team went by Indians from 1915 through 2021 but is changing the name due to longstanding pressure that the name was racist to Native Americans.
Cleveland announced the change to Guardians in July and plans to use the name for the 2022 MLB season.
The roller derby team insists that the Indians knew of their use of Guardians prior to the announcement. The suit alleges that the baseball team even offered a “nominal amount” to use the name and the roller derby club rejected the proposal.
The suit says discussions ended on Tuesday.
The suit says that even though the baseball team was aware of the roller derby team using Guardians, it went ahead and filed two federal trademark applications in July claiming exclusive rights to the name.
The roller derby team also is requesting that the baseball make it clear with heavy promotion that it won’t use Guardians, according to the suit.