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  • Writer's pictureCook Tillman

Music festival trademark dispute gets ugly

Music and movie fests can be found in every corner of the country. A few, however, are massive, worldwide attractions that bring in top tier performers and launch the careers of new entertainers.

Coachella is one of these well-known festivals. The musical and artistic event draws in the rich and the famous; it also boasts a sizable following of music fans as well as fashion fans, as Coachella attendees set the stage for festival-going trends. However, despite its trend-setting reputation, Coachella is facing a legal battle involving a not-so-new issue: trademark infringement.

According to sources, Coachella organizers have taken issue with another festival called Filmchella. The new film festival event is being marketed as “Coachella for Movies” and a film experience for lovers of rock and roll.

Coachella says that the Filmchella name, the misleading marketing and the alleged cybersquatting on sites similar to Coachella’s are all attempts to use protected marks without permission. These actions can also lead people to believe Filmchella is affiliated with the major music fest, though it is not.

However, there are some legal obstacles facing Coachella and its attempt to protect itself. Statements from Filmchella’s organizer argue that the music festival has an incomplete trademark application due to non-usage. He also notes that Coachella is the name of the geographical region where both festivals are located; geographical regions can be very difficult to protect with a trademark.

Coachella argues that the film fest organizer is diluting and infringing on its service marks. They also say that the organizer has evaded service and has not stopped infringing activities, despite promises to do so.

It will be interesting to see how the courts rule in this case, and Coachella has asked the courts for expedited attention, as the film fest is set to run at the end of the month.

In the meantime, this case should serve as an important reminder to anyone in the film, music or entertainment industry who wishes to create or promote similar events. Doing so in violation of existing trademarks and other intellectual property protections can turn into a costly legal battle.

Similarly, if you wish to take action against a party for unauthorized use of your intellectual property, you could also be in for a fight. In either case, legal representation and guidance will be crucial in helping you seek the desired resolution.


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