is the name of an airport such as LAX the act of the FAA or the ICAO? from reading, it looks as though the process starts at the ICAO as a recommendation, then is adopted by the FAA?

  • $\begingroup$ How it gets assigned and who, for trademark rights and etc, owns it, are probably very different things. The former question, about ICAO & the FAA, is on-topic here; anything about trademark rights & other "ownership" questions, isn't. Please rephrase your question to be more specific about what you are asking. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Jul 1, 2019 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ I have always heard the 4 letter codes referred to as "ICAO Identifiers". Obviously the FAA has an interest in mirroring this standard. Not sure what you mean by who "owns" them, or what that might even entail... $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2019 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ i was looking to have some tshirts printed for my airport workers and wanted to tastefully incorporate the airport code in the design. being savvy in tm and copyright, im looking to make sure the naming is a federal process. and if so, the name could never be trademarked or copyrighted. $\endgroup$
    – jimmy
    Jul 1, 2019 at 21:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The 3-letter codes are IATA id's. ICAO codes are 4-letter and in the US are all K plus the IATA code (such as KLAX). For international airports that stuff is all done according to the Chicago convention. The copyright implications are probably better for law.se., but I doubt the codes themselves are copyrightable. Airport logos and such would be though. $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Jul 1, 2019 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ It is certainly not a private, commercial trademark. I would feel confident doing what you plan. $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2019 at 22:08

1 Answer 1


4-letter names are too trivial to be protected by copyright. Trademark protections require 1) specific applications, 2) commercial usage, 3) that the offending use is relatable enough to the original business to dilute the trademark or harm the business.

(Thus, for instance, an "Airbus" car would be a clear a trademark violation, for a model plane called "Airbus A320" some agreement is preferred just to be safe, and for a book titled "Airbus A320" no communication with Airbus is needed, as it does not compete with any Airbus product, nor does such a title on a book imply being one.)

IATA and ICAO codes amount to nothing more than telephone numbers. They cannot be copyrighted, since they represent abstract concepts rather than a creative expression of one, and they aren't trademarked.

More than that is a question for Law.SE.


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