Orlando International Airport officials in Florida are suing the Melbourne airport, claiming travelers are being misled by "the confusing and misleading name Orlando Melbourne International Airport."
Tuesday, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority sued the Melbourne Airport Authority in U.S. District Court, claiming trademark infringement and false advertising.
The lawsuit asks the court to permanently bar Melbourne's aviation board from using "Orlando" in its airport's name, advertising or promotional materials; display a retraction statement on its website for at least one year; and pay damages and attorney's fees.
"By causing a likelihood of confusion, mistake and deception, MLB is inflicting irreparable harm on the goodwill symbolized by GOAA’s Orlando International Airport
Trademark and the reputation for quality that it embodies," the lawsuit states.
The Melbourne Airport Authority has contended that argument does not have merit, citing Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, which serves the same market as Boston Logan International Airport.
In 2010, Melbourne airport officials launched an "Orlando-Melbourne International Airport" campaign to promote its new US Airways service to Charlotte, North Carolina.
The result? Website visits jumped from 1.5 million in 2009 to 5 million in 2010. Five years later, airport officials formalized the "Orlando Melbourne" marketing brand to better identify the facility for out-of-state travelers.
“It is our policy to respectfully decline to comment on any pending legal matters," Lori Booker, Melbourne airport spokeswoman, said of the lawsuit.
No court hearing dates have been scheduled yet.
Orlando International Airport serves about 44 million passengers per year — while Melbourne's serves about 500,000, the lawsuit states. Construction is underway in Orlando on a $2.8 billion terminal expansion, scheduled for completion in 2021.
Tuesday's lawsuit follows failed negotiations, joint public meetings and mediation since Orlando airport officials first complained about the Melbourne airport's name in 2015. In August 2017, both airport boards met at Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral and listened to dueling presentations from their lawyers, but could not reach agreement.
Neale is the South Brevard watchdog reporter at FLORIDA TODAY.
Contact Neale at 321-242-3638
This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Orlando airport officials in Florida sue Melbourne airport for using 'Orlando' in its name