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San Francisco city officials threaten lawsuit over Oakland airport potential name change

On Monday, ​​San Francisco city officials said they will sue the Port of Oakland for alleged trademark infringement if it moves forward with plans to rename Oakland’s airport.

Controversy is brewing in the East Bay as the city of San Francisco threatened to sue Oakland's port commissioners if they changed the airport name to "San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport."

On Monday, city officials sent a letter to the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners stating that the plans to use the term "San Francisco" in the renaming of Oakland's airport infringe on SFO's trademark.

Oakland is pushing for the airport's name change in an effort to lure more travelers to the city. However, San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu said the city will take legal action if Oakland International Airport does not abandon the renaming plan that he feels will cause traveler confusion. 

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"In addition to the immense confusion and chaos the renaming would cause for travelers and consumers generally, this proposal also infringes on SFO’s trademark," said City Attorney Chiu. "We want to see the entire Bay Area thrive as a tourist destination and expand our offerings to visitors, but this proposal is not a legal or practical way to go about it. If Oakland moves forward with this proposal, San Francisco will pursue legal action to prevent misuse of our trademark."

SFO Airport Director Ivar. C Satero also echoed Chiu's concerns.

"We share the City Attorney’s concern that this proposed renaming of Oakland International Airport will cause confusion and frustration for the traveling public, especially when considering the large number of international passengers served at Bay Area airports," said Satero. "We support bringing a legal challenge, if necessary. I urge the Port of Oakland not to proceed with this proposal and hope they will work to find a solution that provides clarity, not confusion, for the travelers visiting the Bay Area."

In his letter, obtained by Fox News Digital, Chiu states that, given SFO’s long history with the name "San Francisco International Airport" (and previously "San Francisco Airport"), its high recognition in the marketplace, and its trademark status, the proposed new name will be very highly likely to cause confusion or mistake among consumers and the public generally. 

Chiu also stated that while the proposed new name is very likely to cause confusion and mistakes broadly, the problem will be particularly crucial for international travelers who may not speak or read English. Those international travelers make up a large portion of SFO’s consumer base, Chiu said. 

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In the last line of the letter, Chiu offers Oakland staffers to work with SFO staffers to work "collaboratively" on alternative names that wouldn't confuse people. 

The new name, if approved, would not change the airport’s code or visual branding, according to the Port of Oakland.

Oakland has been trying to improve its reputation as it has been overrun by crime, with several businesses closing their doors, even forcing some local businesses like In-N-Out and Wendy's, near the Oakland Airport, to flee. The city's last remaining professional sports team, the Oakland A's, is also on its way out. 

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The Oakland Board of Port Commissioners is scheduled to consider the renaming proposal at a public meeting on April 11 at 3:30 p.m.

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