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San Francisco sues Oakland over plans to rename airport

The city of San Francisco has sued the city of Oakland, claiming that plans to rename the airport would infringe on its trademark and “cause confusion.”

San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu filed a federal lawsuit Thursday after the Port of Oakland Board of Commissioners approved a plan to rename the Metropolitan Oakland International Airport to San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport.

The lawsuit argues that the Oakland airport hopes to “increase passengers and profit by rushing to unlawfully incorporate” San Francisco Airports “SFO” trademarked name into its own.

The plan, Chiu argues, ignores SFO’s longstanding brand and identity and would violate federal and state intellectual property law.

“Oakland Airport’s hasty and unnecessary efforts and refusal to engage in discussions of alternative names have left the City and County of San Francisco no choice but to bring this complaint against the Defendant City of Oakland,” the lawsuit said.

Chiu said in a statement, first reported by ABC News, that they had hoped Oakland would “come to its senses” but refused to cooperate on an alternative name.

The San Francisco City Attorney’s statement announcing the lawsuit said the name change would “very likely” lead to widespread confusion among passengers and travel mishaps that could have been avoided.

“This new name will cause confusion and chaos for travelers, which will damage the travel industry for the entire region. We are already seeing at least one airline use the new name, indicated that SFO has already suffered economic harm,” Chiu’s statement said. “We want to see the entire Bay Area thrive as a tourist destination and expand our offerings to visitors, but the renaming is not a legal or practical way to go about it.”

The City of San Francisco has owned the U.S. federal trademark for “San Francisco International Airport” since the 1950s, the statement said.

The City Attorney’s statement also noted that the City of Oakland only gave San Francisco a 30-minute notice of the renaming plan before the new name was announced to the public on March 29. Multiple attempts to reach Oakland officials to meet “have gone unanswered.”

The Hill has reached out to the Port of Oakland Board of Commissioners for comment.

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