Inter Miami, Inter Milan in legal battle over ‘Inter’ trademark

Inter Miami is facing another legal challenge, this one all the way from Italy.

David Beckham’s long-awaited Major League Soccer team, scheduled to begin play in March 2020, is engaged in a trademark dispute with storied Italian club Inter Milan over the word “Inter.”

Read Next

Inter Milan, officially known as FC Internazionale Milano S.p.A, filed a U.S. Patent and Trademark application in 2014 to make the abbreviated version of its name — “Inter” — an exclusive brand, which would prevent Inter Miami from marketing itself as “Inter.” The full name of the Miami team is Club Internacional de Futbol Miami.

Major League Soccer on March 25, 2019, filed an opposition to Inter Milan’s claim that it should have exclusive rights to “Inter.”

The MLS opposition notice states that the word “Inter” is “merely descriptive of applicant and its goods and services,” that the word is short for “internacional,” which translates to “international” and that the phrase “Inter” is “commonly used to describe soccer teams.

It mentions several examples of domestic and foreign soccer clubs that use the name “Inter,” including S.C. Internacional of Porto Alegre, Brazil, which goes by the nickname “Inter.” Others are Inter Nashville FC, Inter Atlanta FC, FC Inter Turku (Finland), NK Inter Zapresic (Croatia), Inter Leipzig (Germany), and Inter de Grand-Goave (Haiti).

The opposition notice goes on to say: “Because of the widespread use of the term Inter in soccer, the relevant consumers do not associate the term Inter with one soccer team; Inter by itself is not a source indicator in connection with goods and services associated with soccer.

“No one soccer team can claim exclusive rights to the term Inter, therefore Milan has no exclusive rights to the term Inter... As a result, Milan is not entitled to register the designation Inter for the goods and services set forth by the Inter application.”

Inter Miami co-owner Jorge Mas told the Herald: “The issues raised are a testament to our city and our team that we are already recognized as a global brand before kicking off.”

A response from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is expected by May 4.

Miami Herald sportswriter Michelle Kaufman has covered 14 Olympics, six World Cups, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, NCAA Basketball Tournaments, NBA Playoffs, and has been the University of Miami basketball beat writer for 20 years. She was born in Frederick, Md., and grew up in Miami.