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What's going on between Inter Milan and Inter Miami CF because of the name

The last chapter of the legal dispute concerning the 'Inter' brand has partially proved the Italian club right

What's going on between Inter Milan and Inter Miami CF because of the name The last chapter of the legal dispute concerning the 'Inter' brand has partially proved the Italian club right

***UPDATES***: in the past few hours the legal dispute between Inter Milan and Inter Miami CF has been enriched with a new and important update, given that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has rejected one of the two arguments brought forward by the American franchise, conceding in fact to the club Italian the first round of the long battle over the 'Inter' brand. Following the request by Inter to obtain exclusive commercial rights throughout the United States, in March 2019 MLS, as owner of all the teams of the league represents all clubs and players, had filed an opposition defining the term 'Inter' as purely descriptive and adding that its registration would have caused a general confusion among the numerous existing teams that use it around the world. But the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected the point concerning the 'risk of confusion', adding that the MLS cannot make requests for trademark protection on behalf of the other clubs mentioned (SC Internacional di Porto Alegre, Inter Nashville FC, Inter Atlanta FC, FC Inter Turku, NK Inter Zapresic, Inter Leipzig and Inter de Grand-Goave). As explained very well in this article appeared on  now it will be up to Inter Miami CF to modify its arguments in a convincing way (managing to demonstrate how the term 'Inter' is purely descriptive and not distinctive, and therefore is not commonly synonymous Inter Milan) to avoid an uncomfortable name change that at the moment seems a surreal but not impossible hypothesis. Especially since David Beckham's team will make their historic Major League Soccer debut on March 14th.

The MLS' adventure has not yet really begun for Inter Miami CF (literally, Club Internacional De Futbol Miami), which will debut in the top American soccer league only in 2020, and the new franchise (supported by an investment group that also includes a celebrity like David Beckham) must already face a serious legal battle: Inter Milan (FC Internazionale Milano SpA) has indeed claim the improper use of the abbreviation 'Inter', in contrast to the request made by the Italian team to register the abbreviated form as an exclusive trademark, in 2014.

In reality, the dispute does not exclusively concern the two football clubs, who were already teased via Twitter in September 2018, when the newly formed team had unveiled the new crest, but also the MLS, as the only entity that owns all the franchises of the league and therefore required to respond by depositing an opposition to the competent office, at the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB).

According to the thesis that emerges from the Major League Soccer official statement, it is true that the word 'Inter' is "merely descriptive of Inter Milan and its goods and services", but the word is a simple abbreviation of "international", and moreover that 'Inter' is a too generic term, commonly used to describe football teams. Among these, national football clubs have been mentioned such as Inter Nashville FC and Inter Atlanta FC and above all foreigners who use the name 'Inter': among them Inter Turku (Finland), Inter Baku (Azerbaijan), the NK Inter Zapresic (Croatia), the Inter Leipzig (Germany) and the Inter de Grand-Goave (Haiti), but also the SC Internacional of Porto Alegre.

The opposition notice continues stating that:

"Due to the widespread use of the term Inter in football, relevant consumers do not associate the term Inter with a football team; Inter alone is not an indicator of origin in relation to goods and services associated with football. No team of football can claim exclusive rights on the term Inter, therefore Milan has no exclusive rights on the term Inter ... As a result, Milan does not have the right to register the designation of Inter for the goods and services established by the Inter application."

In conclusion:

"The MLS will be damaged by the registration requested by the Applicant because such registration would prevent the registration of the term" INTER "with other words on a demonstration of a distinctive character acquired in relation to a football team".


As Michael McCann write on Sports Illustrated, Miami is not the only MLS team to draw on the influence of global football for its name. Common terms like "Sporting", "Real" and "United" have all entered the league's lexicon without any legal problems. But the controversy is more complicated than it seems, because in deciding on the merits of the issue, some extra-football aspects concerning the logo, the marketing of events and the merchandising must also be considered.

To find out how it will end we should wait a few more days: a response from the US Patent and Trademark Office is expected on May 4, although the dispute between MLS and Inter does not necessarily lead to a TTAB ruling. At any time, the two organizations could negotiate an out-of-court settlement (although it is very difficult to assume that Inter will change its name through payment of a fee, just as it is also difficult to imagine that MLS and Beckham will retreat). Therefore an almost plausible solution is that the two teams reach a tacit coexistence agreement in which both continue to use 'Inter', but each one takes the necessary precautions to stand out clearly in marketing and branding.