Metropolitan Oakland International Airport has moved ahead with changing its name to San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport despite the threat of a copyright lawsuit from the City of San Francisco. 

After provisionally approving plans in April, the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners voted to approve the name change, which aim to capitalise on the city’s proximity to San Francisco Bay and the tourist favourite city that shares its name.

The Board confirmed the airport would keep its three-letter code OAK. 

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

“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 honouring our past while building a stronger, more inclusive future.” 

The board’s unanimous vote went ahead despite San Francisco’s local government, which owns a trademark on the name “San Francisco International Airport” (SFO) saying it would move forward with a lawsuit if the name was approved. 

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The day before the vote, San Francisco’s City Attorney David Chiu sent a letter to the Oakland port’s board asking them to work with the city on an alternative name that would “meet the port’s stated goals to increase flights at Oakland Airport and boost economic activity” without infringing on SFO’s trademark. 

Despite its neighbouring city’s plea, the Port of Oakland responded by saying it would also file a lawsuit of its own, with an Answer and Counterclaim asking the courts to rule that the name does not infringe on the city’s trademark. 

Oakland argued that the name change for OAK would not cause confusion with SFO as passengers “will understand that the San Francisco Bay Area can contain more than one airport”. 

Port Attorney Mary Richardson said: “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.” 

Both SFO and OAK opened in 1927 and the former become one of North America’s largest airports, also ranking in the top 30 busiest in the world with 50m passengers in 2023, while OAK has struggled to gain the same traffic with around 11.2m passengers annually.