Oakland Airport fires again and sues San Francisco over identify dispute

Oakland International Airport check-in areas inside Terminal 1, April 2024.

OAKLAND — East Bay officials fired back with a lawsuit against San Francisco in the latest twist arising from an increasingly tangled legal war over a quest to rename Oakland International Airport.

The Port of Oakland is attempting to rename the East Bay aviation hub as San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport in a push to dramatically raise the worldwide and online profile of the travel complex.

San Francisco sued Oakland on April 18, claiming that the intended new name for the East Bay aviation complex would cause confusion and infringe on the trademark status of the name San Francisco International Airport.

On Thursday, the Port of Oakland struck back with its own lawsuit through an answer to and counterclaim against the lawsuit San Francisco had previously filed in the U.S. District Court on behalf of San Francisco International Airport, also known as SFO.

“The Port is asking for a declaratory judgment, which is a ruling by the court that the new name does not infringe upon SFO’s trademark … and that SFO’s trademark does not extend to use of ‘San Francisco Bay’,” the Port of Oakland stated in a prepared release.

San Francisco officials state that on multiple occasions they have attempted to collaborate with Port of Oakland officials to find an alternative name for the East Bay airport as a way to avoid a full-fledged legal battle.

“We had hoped Oakland would come to its senses,” San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu said in a statement. “The defendant’s (Oakland’s) refusal to collaborate on an acceptable alternative name leaves us no choice but to file a lawsuit to protect SFO’s trademark.”

San Francisco airport officials, however, are concerned that settling on a new name with “San Francisco” at the beginning will cause confusion.

“In particular, Oakland Airport’s proposal to include ‘San Francisco’ at the front of its new name, closely followed by the words ‘International Airport’ is problematic, as it will almost certainly cause confusion among consumers and the public generally,” San Francisco stated in its lawsuit.

Oakland Airport officials believe the San Francisco lawsuit is an attempt to keep consumers in the dark about the air travel choices they have when deciding between San Francisco Airport and the East Bay aviation hub.

“The San Francisco City Attorney’s decision to pursue litigation is an attempt to stop consumer education, prevent expanded air travel options for Bay Area residents and visitors, and is a misguided use of San Francisco taxpayer dollars,” Port of Oakland attorney Mary Richardson said.

The East Bay airport said it’s ready to collaborate with San Francisco International Airport to broaden choices for air travelers.

“Oakland International Airport is committed to enhancing its airline routes and increasing competition for the benefit of all of San Francisco Bay Area’s visitors and residents, including those residing in the city and county of San Francisco,” Richardson said.



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