Major League Quidditch will seek a name change to avoid copyright infringement amidst continued growth and to distance itself from “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, MLQ and U.S. Quidditch said in a joint statement.
In a statement released earlier this week, the groups say that the league has been unable to grow because the name “quidditch” has been trademarked by Warner Bros., owners of the “Potter” franchise. As such, the league has been unable to attract sponsors and broadcast deals, and hopes that the name change will allow the sport to grow without any “Potter” references that could lead to a cease-and-desist from the studio.
“I believe quidditch is at a turning point. We can continue the status quo and stay relatively small, or we can make big moves and really propel this sport forward into its next phase. Renaming the sport opens up so many more revenue opportunities for both organizations, which is crucial to expansion,” said USQ Executive Director Mary Kimball.
The name change is supported by Alex Benepe, who created real-life quidditch — or muggle quidditch, as known by “Potter” fans — with classmate Xander Manshel while studying at Middlebury College in 2005. Major League Quidditch was born from a desire to bring Hogwarts’ favorite sport to college campuses
“I’m thrilled that USQ and MLQ are moving in this direction. Big changes like this don’t come without risk, but I’ve been a strong advocate for making this move for a long time. The sport needs its own space without limits on its growth potential and changing the name is crucial to achieving that,” Benepe said.
USQ and MLQ also cited Rowling’s anti-trans comments as a reason for the move, citing its goal to push for progressive values in its sport. As an example, MLQ cites its gender equality rule that stipulates that no more than four players of one gender may be on the field at any given time.
“Both organizations feel it is imperative to live up to this reputation in all aspects of their operations and believe this move is a step in that direction,” the statement reads.
Rowling has come under fire from trans activists since 2019, when she supported tax specialist Maya Forstater after she was fired over comments deemed to be anti-trans. In 2020, Rowling doubled down with a blog post in which she claimed that cis women are in danger of sexual abuse in public bathrooms when trans women who have not begun hormone therapy are allowed inside.
“When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman — and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones — then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside,” she wrote.
Several cast members of the “Harry Potter” film series, including Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, have condemned Rowling’s comments. This past week, Warner Bros. released the first trailer for “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” the third installment in a “Potter” prequel series starring Eddie Redmayne. Unlike trailers for the previous two “Fantastic Beasts” films, Rowling’s name was not prominently featured.