Orlando Trademark Lawsuit Still Up in the Air

Many well-known airports incorporate the cities they serve in their formal names – Miami, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, to name a few. But do any have an exclusive right to those city names? In a newly-filed Florida trademark lawsuit, officials with the Orlando International Airport claims they do.

Orlando trademark attorneys at The Chidolue Law Firm know this isn’t even the first time airports have dueled over a city name.

Two years ago, airports in Memphis, TN. There, the Memphis International Airport battled with the Millington Airport Authority over its use of “Memphis” in its moniker for the former military airfield. The latter agreed to refer to airfield as the “Millington-Memphis Airport,” rather than the “Memphis-Millington Airport.” Officials with Millington said they’d changed the name to make it more recognizable to economic prospects, but officials with MIA alleged this infringed on their trademark. As part of the agreement, Millington leaders agreed not to seek a trademark for the updated MMA title.

Orlando Trademark Attorneys Know “Orlando” a Top-Dollar Name

When it comes to tourism, Florida is world-renowned – and Orlando specifically is top international hub, drawing more than 68 million visitors a year. It’s home to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World and other major tourist destinations. So the name “Orlando” plus “Airport” is going to be valuable for any air travel vendor, given that most visitors flocking to the region are flying here.

The Orlando International Airport (MCO) has been embroiled in multiple disputes over other airports using the city name “Orlando” in the title. A few years ago, it sued the Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), arguing the smaller airport – more than an hour from Walt Disney World – trademarked its name specifically to associate itself with the downtown Orlando tourist powerhouse.

This in turn led to confusion among tourists booking. Travelers who booked with SFB after searching for “Orlando Airport” assumed they were getting a great deal into/out of Orlando, when in fact SFB was closer to Daytona Beach than Disney. Consumers reported feeling duped once they learned they’d have to spend extra money on an Uber to travel into-and-out-of-Orlando to where their flights were booked at SFB. Orlando International (MCO), meanwhile, is just 25 miles from Disney World.

Similar confusion is also reported among users of the “Orlando Melbourne International Airport,” which USA Today reports is now being sued by Orlando International Airport officials in U.S. District Court. In the trademark infringement and false advertising lawsuit, plaintiffs allege tourists were being confused and mislead by the Melbourne airport including “Orlando” in its name.

Whereas Melbourne serves about 500,000 travelers annually, Orlando International serves about 44 million. The Melbourne Airport Authority officially launched the “Orlando Melbourne International Airport” campaign nearly a decade ago, once it started adding flights to-and-from Charlotte. The name change boosted its website searches from 1.5 million to 5 million. Orlando International cites this in its trademark infringement lawsuit as grounds for consumer confusion. Melbourne Airport Authority officials, however, pointed to other airports serving overlapping customer bases that use the same city name, such as the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and the Boston Logan International Airport.

Orlando trademark attorneys understand the filing of the lawsuit comes after failed mediation between the two airport authorities.

Consult Trademark Attorney on Use of City Moniker in Your Business Name

As noted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a key question courts will consider in weighing whether a mark or name is infringing on a trademark is customer confusion or likely customer confusion.

The question of customer confusion is often a hotly disputed one, and arises increasingly as companies seek to incorporate a city name in the name of their business trademark in order boost website traffic. Questions about whether a trademark is infringed by this practice are best answered by a qualified Orlando trademark attorney.

Contact Orlando trademark attorney at The Chidolue Law Firm, serving Orlando and Lake Mary, by calling (407) 995-6567 or email us.

Additional Resources:

Orlando airport officials in Florida sue Melbourne airport for using ‘Orlando’ in its name, March 22, 2019, By Rick Neal, USA Today

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