The Greater Orlando Airport Authority this month filed a law suit against the Melbourne (FL) Airport Authority (MAA) alleging trademark infringement and false advertising for changing the name of the Melbourne airport to Orlando Melbourne International (MLB).
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, comes more than a year after the two sides failed to come to an agreement over the MAA’s use of the word Orlando in its formal airport name. The Greater Orlando Airport Authority claims that only Orlando International (MCO) should be allowed to have Orlando in its name.
“The Melbourne International Airport is located in Melbourne, Florida, and has been and continues to be operated under an Airport Operating Certificate naming it as the Melbourne International Airport issued by the FAA,” the suit alleges.
The legal claim adds that not only is MLB located 70 miles from the city of Orlando, but the two agencies regulating airport identifiers and names, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), both utilize the Melbourne International Airport name for MLB’s airport.
The legal action also notes the MAA has a website, www.theotherOrlandoairport.com that falsely claims that the airport is conveniently located near area attractions such as Walt Disney World.
The MAA would not comment on the lawsuit. But in a 2017 meeting between Melbourne and Orlando officials held to resolve the dispute, MLB Executive Director Greg Donovan suggested that Orlando, much like the term Central Florida, is primarily descriptive, adding that tourism packages have long included terminology such as “Beachside Orlando,” even though the city is located hours from the nearest salt-water beach.
“We compete not just with each other—and we should be unified in the way we approach tourism—because we’re competing with places all over the world,” Donovan said at the meeting. “And if we have a stronger case to bring people to our region, why not use it.”