Inter Miami faces name change after legal battle with Internazionale

This article is more than 3 months old
  • Serie A club have claimed the term ‘Inter’ belongs to them
  • US Patent and Trademark Office rules against MLS franchise
David Beckham
Inter Miami CF, the MLS club owned by David Beckham, are set to make their debut next month. Photograph: Lynne Sladky/AP

Internazionale have won a key battle in a trademark infringement lawsuit against Major League Soccer, claiming the term ‘Inter’ is synonymous with the Serie A club, which also goes by Inter Milan.

Inter Miami CF, the new MLS club owned by David Beckham set to make their debut next month, suffered a setback in the first round of the proceedings when the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) dismissed one of the team’s two arguments, according to a report published Monday.

Miami attorney David Winker, writing for Law.com, said the Italian club appears to have overcome the significant legal threshold of “likely confusion”, adding he believes the ruling “will result in Miami having to change its name”.

“The USPTO found that MLS’ claim that there are a number of clubs around the world that use Inter in their name – SC Internacional of Porto Alegre, Brazil, Inter Nashville FC, Inter Atlanta FC, FC Inter Turku (Finland), NK Inter Zapresic (Croatia), Inter Leipzig (Germany) and Inter de Grand-Goave (Haiti) – did not meet its burden to show that MLS has valid proprietary, or ownership, right in the name, Inter,” the report said.

The Miami New Times reported Internazionale submitted a trademark application to the USPTO in 2014 to make ‘Inter’ and exclusive brand in the United States, barring other clubs from marketing themselves with the same shorthand, while Inter Miami CF’s subsequent application in 2018 has been suspended.

MLS’s outlined a two-pronged argument in a notice of opposition filed last year against Internazionale’s application: that ‘Inter’ is a widely used shorthand in soccer and that a trademark on the term will cause a “likelihood of confusion” among the various teams that already use it. But last month, the patent office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board dismissed the “likelihood of confusion” claim and said the league didn’t meet those requirements, Winker wrote.

Inter (@Inter_en)

Inter Miami you say? ?? https://t.co/NcdUfKjPH6

September 5, 2018

The trademark battle is the latest bump in the rocky gestation for Beckham’s club, including a protracted struggle over stadium construction, objections from cruise lines, ludicrous demands from private landowners, calls to build a high school on the complex and, most recently, the discovery of arsenic contamination at the golf course where the 25,000-seat Miami Freedom Park will be built.

Inter Miami (for now, anyway) are scheduled to play the first home game in club history on 14 March against LA Galaxy after opening with back-to-back road matches at LAFC and DC United.