Inter Miami, Major League Soccer (MLS) are Opposing Inter Milan’s American Trademark
In January of 2018, the City of Miami was awarded a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise. At the current time, the club is set to join the top professional soccer league in the United States at the beginning of the 2020 season. Playing in a brand new 18,000 seat stadium in Fort Lauderdale, the team’s name will be ‘Inter Miami’.
The team is now fighting to secure full intellectual property rights to that name. According to reporting from the Miami Herald, Inter Miami and the MLS have filed a joint opposition to a trademark application that was submitted by the Italian professional soccer club Inter Milan. Here, our Miami trademark litigation attorneys provide an overview of the key issues that are at stake in this case.
Inter Milan Sought Full Rights to the Name ‘Inter’ in the U.S. Market
In 2014, Inter Milan — officially known as FC Internazionale Milano — filed a trademark application to obtain exclusive commercial rights to use the term ‘Inter’ as it pertains to soccer. The Italian professional soccer club contends that the team has become synonymous with the term ‘Inter’ in the American market. When in place, this trademark application would prevent Miami’s future MLS team from marketing itself using the term ‘Inter’ — even if only doing so in South Florida. In late March of 2019, Inter Miami and Major League Soccer filed a joint opposition to Inter Milan’s trademark.
The Counterargument: Widespread Use, No Consumer Association
Inter Miami and the MLS argue that the term ‘Inter’ — which is short for ‘international’ — is used widely across the globe to refer to a number of different professional soccer clubs. Specifically, they cite a few major global teams such as Inter Leipzig, which plays in the German league, and NK Inter Zaprešić, which plays in the Croatian league. Beyond that, Inter Miami and the MLS also cite some prominent amateur U.S. club teams, including one that plays in Nashville and one that plays in Atlanta.
The core argument against Inter Milan’s trademark application is that the term is widely used both in the U.S. and around the world. As such, the relevant consumers do not view the term as a source signifier. Therefore, these parties contend that the Italian football club should not be granted exclusive rights to the term. The Miami Herald reports that a response from the USPTO is expected in early May.
Get Help From Our Trademark Litigation Lawyers in Miami, FL
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Miami trademark litigation attorneys have the skills and legal knowledge needed to protect the intellectual property of you and your business. We handle the full range of trademark law issues, including trademark infringement claim. To get immediate guidance with your legal case, please contact our law firm today. We have an office in Miami and an office in West Palm Beach and we handle trademark law claims throughout the state of Florida.