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Inter Miami secures Lockhart deal – but faces Inter Milan lawsuit

David Beckham’s Major League Soccer expansion team, Inter Miami CF, is facing yet another hurdle in its attempts to get up and running.

After a series of delays and legal disputes in its bid to secure a soccer-specific stadium, the team is now locked in a trademark dispute with Serie A giants Inter Milan, alongside MLS.

Inter Milan – which has toured the United States multiple times in the last decade and whose matches are shown each week in the country on ESPN+ – filed a US Patent and Trademark application in 2014 to make “Inter” its exclusive brand in the US.

On March 25, MLS filed a notice of opposition to the Inter Milan claim. In the filing, the league alleges that “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.”

The notice also claims that “MLS will be damaged by the registration sought by Applicant because such a registration would prevent registration of the term ‘Inter’ with other wording upon a showing of acquired distinctiveness in connection with a soccer team”.

A response from the US Patent and Trademark Office is expected by May 4. A Trademark Trial and Appeal Board will consider both clubs’ claims.

On Tuesday evening, the City of Fort Lauderdale approved Inter Miami’s plan to replace Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale by a 5-0 vote of the City Commission. Beckham’s group will have 180 days to complete the demolition. The club plans to play the 2020 and 2021 seasons at the facility and use it to house a USL League One team and its academy thereafter, assuming plans to build a stadium at Miami Freedom Park are finalized.