Proposed Oakland International Airport renaming infringes on SFO’s trademark

City Attorney will take legal action if Oakland International Airport does not abandon ill-conceived renaming plan that will cause traveler confusion and infringe on SFO’s trademark

SAN FRANCISCO (April 8, 2024) — City Attorney David Chiu sent a letter to the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners today informing them that proposed plans to use “San Francisco” in the renaming of Oakland International Airport (OAK) infringes on San Francisco International Airport’s (SFO) trademark. The Port of Oakland recently announced plans to rename Oakland International Airport to “San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport.” City Attorney Chiu demanded Oakland abandon its proposed plans, and if it refuses to do so, indicated that San Francisco will take legal action to prevent the use of its trademark.

City Attorney David Chiu and Mayor London Breed speak at a press conference in August 2022.

“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.”

“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 SFO Airport Director Ivar C. 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.”


SFO began operating in 1927, and has used the name “San Francisco Airport” or “San Francisco International Airport” throughout most of its history. The City has owned U.S. federal trademark registrations for the marks “San Francisco International Airport” since 2012, with the first date of use in 1954, and the assigned airport code “SFO” together with SFO’s logo since 2007, with the first day of use in 2000. Both registrations have achieved incontestable status under federal law.

Renaming Oakland International Airport to “San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport” will likely cause widespread confusion and mishaps for travelers. The current renaming plan appears intentionally designed to divert travelers who may be unfamiliar with Bay Area geography and lead them to believe OAK has a business relationship with SFO, which it does not. The proposed renaming would be particularly challenging for international travelers who may not speak or read English—an important segment of SFO’s customer base.

If the Port of Oakland decides to proceed with the current renaming proposal, San Francisco will pursue necessary legal action. The clear similarity and the resulting very high likelihood of confusion between the City’s registered trademark “San Francisco International Airport” and Oakland International Airport’s proposed name “San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport” would give San Francisco strong federal trademark infringement and federal trademark dilution claims and related common law and state claims against the Port of Oakland in a court action.

The Oakland Board of Port Commissioner’s is scheduled to consider the renaming proposal at a public meeting on April 11 at 3:30 p.m. City Attorney Chiu’s letter to the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners can be found here.