Despite legal threat, Oakland votes to add ‘San Francisco Bay’ to airport’s name

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Evidently, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim aren’t the only organization with big-city envy.

The Oakland Board of Port Commissioners voted Thursday to change the name of the airport to “San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport” in an attempt to bring more recognition to the airport.

Despite opposition from some locals and San Francisco officials, the commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the new moniker, replacing the more precise “Metropolitan Oakland International Airport.” The airport’s three-letter code, OAK, will remain the same, much to the relief of travel agents and airline ticketing systems.

The name change is an attempt to raise awareness of the Oakland airport’s location in the San Francisco Bay Area, where it’s been since 1927, according to a news release from the Board of Port Commissioners.

“Our Board came to these discussions with a shared love of Oakland and a desire to see our city and airport thrive,” Port Commission President Barbara Leslie said in a statement. “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.”

Before the new name can lure more tourists to the modest, two-terminal airport on the east side of the bay, however, the board will have to fend off a legal challenge from the city on the west side.

San Francisco filed a lawsuit against Oakland in the U.S. District Court on April 18, alleging that the new name would infringe on the trademark it holds for the San Francisco International Airport’s name. That airport, by the way, is located between San Bruno and Millbrae in unincorporated San Mateo County, about 13 miles south of the San Francisco City Attorney’s office.

The Port of Oakland filed a counterclaim Thursday, asking the court to rule that the new airport name doesn’t infringe on the SFO trademark.

“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 in a statement.

The San Francisco International Airport has used San Francisco Airport or its current name for most of its history. Officials have expressed “serious concerns” about the renaming of Oakland’s airport, saying that it could cause confusion and economic loss for travelers.

“San Francisco took no pleasure in filing this lawsuit,” said City Attorney David Chiu in a statement. “We urge Oakland leaders to see reason and collaborate with us so that we can avoid costly litigation. If we can work together on a name that meets the goals of both airports, we should do so for the good of all travelers and our region.”

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.