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Oakland airport officials reaffirm "San Francisco Bay" name change, countersues San Francisco

San Francisco sues Oakland over airport name change
San Francisco sues Oakland over airport name change 02:22

OAKLAND – Officials with Oakland International Airport gave final approval to add "San Francisco Bay" to its name, rebuffing claims of trademark infringement from San Francisco city officials and from SFO.

Commissioners with the Port of Oakland, which operates the airport, approved the renaming in a unanimous decision, reaffirming a vote held on April 11.

"Since our initial vote, the Port has met with dozens of community leaders and stakeholders and heard their concerns. We are moving forward with a commitment to honoring our past while building a stronger, more inclusive future," port commission president Barbara Leslie said in a statement.

In late March, port officials proposed changing the name of the facility from "Metropolitan Oakland International Airport" to "San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport." Officials cited a lack of "geographic awareness" among out of-town visitors about where Oakland is located and losing routes over the last 15 years as a reason for changing the name.

While the port claimed support from community and business leaders, the renaming plan has not been without controversy. San Francisco city officials filed a lawsuit folowing the commission's vote last month, claiming the new name infringes on the trademark of San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

"Oakland's name is going to cause immense confusion and chaos for travelers all over the world, particularly visitors for whom English is not their first language," San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu told CBS News Bay Area. "They have made a decision that is intentionally diverting travelers that would otherwise be going to SFO, to their airport. After SFO has invested billions of dollars over decades in its reputation, its branding and its services."

In the wake of Thursday's vote, Port of Oakland officials announced a countersuit against San Francisco, saying their lawsuit was "prematurely" filed.

"The San Francisco's 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," said Port Attorney Mary Richardson.

"SFO's lawsuit is a disappointing and anticompetitive effort to discourage competition and choice, and we are confident the Court will agree," Richardson went on to say.

The port is asking the court to rule that the name does not infringe on SFO's trademark and that no one owns or has trademark rights to the San Francisco Bay. 

Chiu's office said they plan to proceed with their claim amid Oakland's countersuit.

"It is disappointing that Oakland chose this path and has ignored our multiple offers to collaborate on alternative names and avoid litigation," spokesperson Jen Kwart told CBS News Bay Area. "We have strong federal trademark infringement claims against Oakland, and they have given us no choice to but to move forward with next steps in our lawsuit."

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