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Progressive baseball fans — assuming they exist — scored two big wins this year when MLB moved the All-Star Game out of Georgia over a voting bill, and when the Cleveland Indians announced a name change. Yet, things are no longer going as planned.
This year’s World Series will split time between two GOP-controlled states full of voting rights laws, Georgia and Texas, and the Cleveland baseball team transition’s to the “Guardians” has now hit a snag.
According to WKYC, the Cleveland Guardians roller derby team has filed a federal lawsuit against the Cleveland Guardians baseball team to block the name change.
I’ll let you process that for 20 seconds.
Now, let’s dive in:
The lawsuit says negotiations between the derby and baseball teams broke down on Tuesday, Oct. 26.
“Major League Baseball would never let someone name their lacrosse team the ‘Chicago Cubs’ if the team was in Chicago, or their soccer team the ‘New York Yankees’ if that team was in New York – nor should they,” Christopher Pardo, the derby team’s lead attorney, said in a statement. “The same laws that protect Major League Baseball from the brand confusion that would occur in those examples also operate in reverse to prevent what the Indians are trying to do here. By taking the name ‘Cleveland Guardians’ overnight, the Indians knowingly and willfully eviscerated the rights of the original owner of that name – the real Cleveland Guardians.
“When the roller derby team complained to the Indians, the MLB franchise offered a truly nominal amount to buy the team’s intellectual property rights, including its social media accounts and the valuable www.clevelandguardians.com domain name,” Pardo added
Gary Sweatt, the owner of the roller derby team, said the baseball team “forced us into having to protect the name we have used for years.”
That doesn’t sound good.
The lawsuit claims the roller derby squad earned “common law trademark rights based on priority of use in northeast Ohio that dates back to late 2013 and 2014.”
Coincidentally, the derby team plans to return for the 2022 season after last playing in 2019. So either way, the Cleveland Guardians, in some form or sport, are coming soon.
The lawsuit says the baseball team “surreptitiously” filed its trademark application in Mauritius to avoid a name conflict. The former Indians say no way, that they did so in Mauritius to avoid a leak.
Oh, this is getting good. The derby team so wants a buy-out of the name, doesn’t it?
“When given an opportunity to acquire all the Cleveland Guardians’ superior rights (including both Cleveland Guardians name and clevelandguardians.com domain), the Indians only offered to pay a nominal amount, likely no more than fifteen minutes of annual team revenue,” the lawsuit says.
Drama of this magnitude is what baseball needs to stay in the conversation after the World Series ends.
So, whose side are you on: the Cleveland Guardians roller derby team or the maybe Cleveland Guardians baseball team?