Cleveland Baseball to Share ‘Guardians’ Name with Roller Derby Team

Christopher M. Pardo, attorney for the skate derby organization, and the team itself declined to comment further on the deal on Tuesday.

In the lawsuit, the roller derby team in the Cleveland suburb of Parma, Ohio, said it was “inconceivable” that a baseball franchise worth more than $1 billion didn’t do a Google search for the Cleveland Guardians name. If it did, the lawsuit said it would find the website of the skate derby team, which operates as a nonprofit organization.

“But economic power does not make legal entitlement,” the lawsuit said. “There can’t be two ‘Cleveland Guards’ teams in Cleveland, and frankly, the plaintiff was here first.”

The lawsuit accused the baseball team of secretly filing a trademark application in April for the name of the Cleveland Guardians in the small East African island nation of Mauritius to hide paperwork.

In June, the lawsuit said the owner of the roller derby team was presented with a “nominal” bid by the baseball franchise after said it would consider selling the naming rights and domain name. According to the lawsuit, the baseball team never responded to his counter offer.

When the lawsuit was filed, the baseball team said in a statement: “We believe there is no conflict between the parties and their ability to operate in their respective business areas.”

Under increasing pressure from Native Americans and other groups, Cleveland’s baseball team said last year it would abandon the name it had used for more than a century. The murder of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis last year was a catalyst for sweeping changes to the names and symbols used by institutions, including the Washington National Football League team.

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