Cleveland Indians’ Name Change Unsettled

    • A roller derby team has used the Cleveland Guardians name for a decade.
    • Lawyers hired by Indians are fighting for the Cleveland Guardians trademark.

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Cleveland Indians owner Paul Dolan said the team received “final clearance” for the club’s new name. That may not be the case.

The team announced Friday that it will rebrand as the Cleveland Guardians following the 2021 season. The rebrand, however, could become complicated if a men’s roller derby team with the same name seeks an injunction, or a separate trademark dispute isn’t settled

Both could be resolved, but Sneaker Law Firm founder Zakari A. Kurtz told FOS it could cost Dolan a chunk of change. Rebranding the $1.16 billion team will alone likely run at least $10 million, Kurtz said.

Kurtz said the roller derby team — which has used the name for a decade with a logo resembling the one Cleveland unveiled last week — could be the biggest impediment to the name change. 

  • The team has also owned a Cleveland Guardians website domain name since at least 2014. A representative for the roller derby team declined to comment to FOS.
  • “If they don’t settle with the Indians and the team chooses to use the name, the roller derby team could sue to stop them,” Kurtz said. 

The Indians also filed a trademark for Cleveland Guardians on Friday, an application that wasn’t disclosed in the trademark system until Wednesday. A Delaware-based firm filed for trademark protections for the Cleveland Guardians in 2020, one that was opposed by the Indians’ legal team. 

An Indians spokesperson declined to comment.