ORLANDO, Fla. — Leaders at Orlando International Airport are trying to block a trademark application filed by the Orlando Sanford International Airport, worrying it will contribute to confusion when people book flights.
The legal move to oppose the trademark is the latest in a now year-long fight between the two airports about whether the Sanford airport can use the word "Orlando" to market itself online.
The trademark on the name "ORLANDO SANFORD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT" would legally allow the Sanford Airport Authority to market the airport online using the word "Orlando" in the airport's name.
That sticks in the craw of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority board, which manages the Orlando International Airport. Board members believe travelers will confuse the two when booking flights.
Some travelers to the Sanford airport told Channel 9's Field Sutton they have booked flights before expecting to land at OIA, only to find themselves at the Sanford airport instead.
Alistair Connell said the first time he booked a flight to the Sanford airport, he made that mistake.
"I have a friend of mine and he was trying to go to Disney World last year and he came in and he realized 'Oh, well I could have gone into the international airport and saved myself X amount of time,’” said Connell.
OIA has been operating with a trademark on their name since 1989. Leaders believe if the Sanford airport is granted a trademark on the name, their airport will start appearing more when people search for flights in Orlando.
"When you begin to use it out there, when people are searching," said Frank Kruppenbacher, GOAA board chair. “When you put in 'Orlando Airport,' to have that pop up and create massive confusion, there's a problem with that.”
At first, the US Patent and Trademark Office was leaning toward denying Sanford’s request, saying the word “Orlando” is generic.
But the Orlando Sanford airport argues it’s been doing business as Orlando Sanford International Airport for so long that it has a right to use the word.
When the patent office eventually agreed, OIA filed an objection and began a legal faceoff.
The downside for travelers, if OIA is right, is that it might be tougher to find flights to the Sanford airport.