US state of San Francisco sues Oakland for misusing its name

San Francisco hasn’t take Oakland’s recent decision to rename the city’s airport as San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport lightly. Apparently, renaming an airport isn’t as simple as slapping on a new sign. San Francisco filed a lawsuit, claiming the name change would only serve to confuse travelers and, worse yet, impact its airport’s finances.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 12: Travelers walk towards Terminal 2 at Oakland International Airport on April 12, 2024 in Oakland, California. (Getty Images via AFP)

Why is San Francisco suing Oakland?

The Port of Oakland’s Board of Commissioners was brave enough to unanimously approve the name change last week, scheduling another vote for final approval on May 9. The airport in question? Currently, it’s known as Oakland International Airport.

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San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu didn’t mince words, “we had hoped Oakland would come to its senses, but their refusal to collaborate on an acceptable alternative name leaves us no choice but to file a lawsuit to protect SFO’s trademark,” San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu said in a statement.

“Travelers will very likely be confused and book tickets to the unintended airport,” resulting in “missed flights and connections,” the complaint further claimed.

Chiu elaborated, “This renaming scheme seems designed to mislead travelers unfamiliar with Bay Area geography, making them think OAK has some sort of partnership with SFO, which it absolutely does not.”

The proposed renaming doesn’t infringe San Francisco’s trademark, the Port of Oakland said in a statement in response to the suit. “We will vigorously defend our right to claim our spot on the San Francisco Bay,” the statement said. “We are standing up for Oakland and our East Bay community.

Oakland’s response? They’re not backing down. They plan to forge ahead with the name change and defend their decision in court. According to the Port of Oakland, “OAK’s proposed renaming doesn’t step on SFO’s toes in any way.” Well, this is bound to be an interesting legal showdown. Stay tuned.

How will name change impact?

San Francisco and Oakland are on opposite sides of the bay and connected by the 8.4 mile-long San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Former is on the west end and the latter on the east.

San Francisco claims, the rebranding would be a particular headache for international travelers who might not speak English. At least one airline, Azores Airlines, has already adopted the new Oakland airport name on its booking website, according to the complaint.

They also argue the new name will increase passenger traffic to the Oakland airport and boost economic activity. Whereas negatively impact business in San Francisco.

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