Disney World Airports Battle in Federal Trademark Lawsuit

Orlando airport name lawsuit

What’s in a name?

Well, if you ask the folks at Orlando International Airport, the answer is, a lot.

Orlando International Airport is the main airport that Guests travel to when they are headed to Walt Disney World Resort. MCO, as it’s known by many, welcomes around 50 million guests to the Sunshine State each year. The airport is just about 17 miles from The Most Magical Place on Earth, and makes it incredibly easy for guests to go back and forth.

Orlando International Airport

Credit: MCO

However, it is not the only airport in the area.

Orlando Sandford International Airport also tries to market itself as an airport option for Disney World travelers. Unlike Orlando International, Orlando Sanford is not actually located in Orlando. It is located in Seminole County and is more than 40 miles away from Disney World. It takes guests about an hour to get to Disney World from Orlando Sanford, but less than half an hour to get to Disney from Orlando International.

Orlando Sanford International Airport

Credit: Orlando Sanford International

For years, Orlando Sanford International was known as the Central Florida Regional Airport. Then, in 1996, the name change happened. Orlando International officials always opposed the name change, but let it slide. That was, until 2017, when Orlando Sanford International applied for a trademark for its name and logo.

MCO officials opposed the name trademark, and the trademark board agreed with them. The trademark board stated that Orlando Sanford had chosen its new name, “to create confusion with and gain the benefit of the reputation of the much larger and more well-known Orlando International Airport.”

Southwest Disney

Credit: Disney

During the trademark dispute, spokespeople for Orlando International said that the airport frequently received calls complaining about problems with Allegiant Airlines. Allegiant’s hub is Orlando Sanford, and that’s where the problems were. They would also have to field problems from travelers who had booked flights to and from Orlando Sanford, but then arrived at Orlando International because they didn’t know the airports were different.

Orlando international terminal c

Credit: MCO

Now, Orlando Sanford International is taking its fight to the federal courts. Orlando Sanford is appealing the trademark board’s ruling, claiming that the decision was made “in error” and was “not supported by either the law or evidence.” Airport officials also believe they should be able to trademark because it “has invested considerably in its Orlando Sanford International Airport mark” in the 27 years since the name change.

Orlando Sanford is asking a federal court to throw out the ruling and determine that there is no trademark infringement. They are also asking that a judge declare the term “Orlando International Airport” as generic, since it just refers to an international airport in Orlando, Florida.

Officials from both airports have not commented on the pending litigation.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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