Regional Florida Airport Facing Mediation over Name Dispute With Nearby Tampa
Monday, February, 11, 2013
A Florida county is facing mediation over its attempt to use the name of a neighboring city in rebranding its airport. Despite this proximity, Tampa International Airport is doing everything it can, starting with filing a lawsuit, to keep Hernando County’s “Brooksville-Tampa Regional Airport” from becoming the commonly accepted nomenclature for the regional transportation hub.
Attorneys for the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, the entity representing Tampa International Airport, have requested an injunction against Hernando County for its continued use of the name on its marketing materials, letterhead and website. Meanwhile, Janet Zink, the director of communications for Tampa International Airport, stated in a press conference that a federal judge has sent the case to mediation, and that the mediation hearings will be occur in federal court. “We're glad that the judge ruled in our favor in this first court hearing," she said. "We believe we have a strong case."
However, County Commission Chairman Dave Russell is optimistic that Hernando County will win and will be granted the continued use of the name “Brooksville-Tampa Regional Airport,” in order to attract more business and air traffic to a regional airport that is in such close proximity (10 miles) to the city of Tampa, Florida. "I wouldn't be dancing a jig right now if I were them," he said, referring to the fact that just because the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority was granted mediation doesn’t mean that they will succeed with their other request of forcing a name change for the airport. "I could request they write Hernando County a check for a million dollars," he said. "That doesn't mean it's going to happen."
U.S. District Judge James Whittemore issued the order for mediation in hopes that it "may result in the just efficient and expeditious resolution of this matter." He instructed that both parties select a mediator and lead council, submitting the names to the office of the county clerk before February 15th.
If mediation does not settle the dispute, the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority has already passed a vote to spend up to $400,000, if necessary, to keep the word “Tampa” out of the regional airport’s name. According to the lawsuit it filed, the use of the word would be a "false designation of origin, false advertising, Florida common law trademark infringement and Florida trademark dilution."