Indians Acting Like Cowboys

An interesting suit was filed on October 27 in the Norther District of Ohio by the Guardians Roller Derby team against the Cleveland Guardians Baseball Company f/k/a the Cleveland Indians. The Cleveland Indians after 105 years decided to change their name the Cleveland Guardians, and if the Complaint is to be believed, did so with full knowledge of another Cleveland sports team already using the name, the Cleveland Guardians roller derby team.

As the Complaint (Para. 20) alleges,”it is inconceivable that an organization worth more than $1B and estimated to have annual revenues of $290M+ would not at least have performed a Google search for “Cleveland Guardians” before settling on the name.”

The Complaint lays out the history of events:

While the strategy of filing in a remote jurisdiction to hide interest in a mark from prying eyes is a common one, employed by many large companies, including Apple, and not as sinister as the Complaint implies, the Indians conduct in the face of a party with superior rights seems rather cavalier — wait, no, that’s a different Cleveland team.

The Complaint alleged that “Two sports teams in the same city cannot have identical names. Major League Baseball would never permit “Chicago Cubs” lacrosse or “New York Yankees” rugby teams to operate alongside its storied baseball clubs and rightly so. Confusion would otherwise result. Imagine seeing a “New York Yankees” shirt for sale and buying it. Which team did you just support?” There are certainly problems in such a scenario, although it worked for years in St. Louis, which had both a Cardinals baseball team and a Cardinals football team. This was a special circumstance where similarly named teams, with long histories, found themselves in the same city.

No doubt this will be settled, and there will plenty of branded baseball merchandise to buy in the Forest City, and the city’s newly renamed roller derby team will be the best funded roller derby team in the country. The lesson, if there is one, is to not fall in love with a new name until after it is properly cleared.

Opportune or Opportunistic?

The trademark register is like the rings on a tree — revealing over time what is on the minds of the public. This is once again proved in the context of the Covid -19 pandemic. Just four days after the first reported case of Covid-19 in the United States, a U.S. Trademark application was filed for FLU MD for dietary and nutritional supplements. This may even have been coincidental, but it was soon filed by applications on WUHAN VAX, FIGHT THE FLU KIT, CORONAVIRUS SURVIVAL GUIDE, COVID-19 VAX, and CORONABLOK.

By the time of the first Covid-19 death in the United States on February 29, 2020, at least 20 applications apparently related to Covid-19 had been filed. Since February 29, there have been an additional 11 filings, including an applications on COVID 19 for t-shirts and I SURVIVED COVID 19 for clothing.

It seems even a pandemic can’t keep a good market campaign down.

  Serial Number Mark Filing Date Representative Goods
1 88771488 FLU MD January 23, 2020 Dietary and nutritional supplements
2 88774489 WUHAN VAX January 27, 2020 Vaccines, etc.
3 88774506 WUHAN MVAX January 27, 2020 Vaccines, etc.
4 88774522 WUHAN CORONA VAX January 27, 2020 Vaccines, etc.
5 88774534 WUHAN CORONA MVAX January 27, 2020 Vaccines, etc.
6 88777531 FLUDEMIC January 29, 2020 Downloadable software and mobile application for providing information relating to infectious diseases, flu outbreaks and pandemics, immunization information and locations of clinics and health facilities
7 88780060 FIGHT THE FLU KIT January 31, 2020 Disinfecting handwash;etc.
8 88781934 CORONAVAX February 1, 2020 Vaccines
9 88783939 CORONAVIRUS SURVIVAL GUIDE February 4, 2020 Magazines in the field of survival, protection, medicine and pandemics
10 88784020 ESPEROFLU February 4, 2020 Vaccines; etc.
11 88790444 CORONAVIRUS February 9, 2020 Prerecorded audio cassettes featuring music and record albums
12 88792162 FLU ARMOUR February 11, 2020 Online retail store services featuring hazardous material body covers
13 88792612 COVID-19 VAX February 11, 2020 Vaccines
14 88800630 CORONA-V February 18, 2020 Dietary supplement drink mixes
15 88805686 FLU-TONE February 21, 2020 Homeopathic supplements
16 88812499 DELEFLU February 27, 2020 Apparatus for disinfecting water
17 88812822 CORONABLOK February 27, 2020 Vaccines
18 88814254 VIRUS POLICE February 28, 2020 Disinfecting wipes; disinfectant sprays; disinfectants; disinfecting handwash; disinfectant soap
19 88814615 THE CORONA YOU WANT February 28, 2020 Liquor and liqueur beverages, namely, spirits and malt beverage
20 88815650 FLUTEA February 28, 2020 Herb teas for medicinal purposes;
21 88816220 ANTIVIRUS-5 March 1, 2020 Chemical additives for use in the manufacture of cosmetics
22 88816317 VIRUSITEA March 1, 2020 Herbal teas for medicinal purposes
23 88818961 FIGHT THE VIRUS March 3, 2020 Cough drops;etc.
24 88822405 CORONAVIRUSRX March 5, 2020 Respirators for artificial respiration; Fever thermometers
25 88823821 VIRUSHIELD March 6, 2020 Masks for use by medical personnel
26 88824831 ANTIVIRUS PRO March 6, 2020 Dietary and nutritional supplements for IMMUNE SUPPORT
27 88826872 COVID 19
March 9, 2020  
28 88827103 I SURVIVED COVID-19
March 9, 2020  
Clothing, etc.
29 88827108 WE CURED COVID-19
March 9, 2020  
Clothing, etc.
30 88827109 TOGETHER WE SURVIVED COVID-19 March 9, 2020 Clothing, etc.
31 88827271 CORONAKIT March 9, 2020 First aid kits