Live events sector
Goldenvoice, the organizers of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, one of the world’s leading music festivals, have filed a trademark infringement lawsuit over the planned “Flmchella” film festival, arguing that the new event has refused repeated requests to change its name.
The complaint, filed by Coachella Music Festival LLC in the US District Court for Central California, says that Filmchella founder Robert Trevor Simms and twenty other defendants are using the similar-sounding name to their name and trade mark for their multiday outdoor film festival. To add to this, the complaint says that both events feature numerous forms of entertainment and camping, are held in Southern California and that Simms has pitched his planned festival as “Coachella for movies”. The film festival is scheduled to run from the 29th September to the 1st October in Joshua Tree, California.
Coachella Music Festival LLC owns several trademarks and servicemarks associated with the festival, including the Coachella servicemark and “Chella” for use on shirts and T-shirts; However the trademark for use of “Chella” in “musical” and “cultural and arts events”, “campground facilities”, “hotel accommodation services”, drinks, transportation and other clothing has not as yet been registered.
The suit says “Trading on the goodwill of plaintiffs’ famous ‘Coachella’ festival, defendants are attempting to operate a directly competitive festival which they have named ‘Filmchella'” ….. “Despite repeated requests from plaintiffs asking them to change the name … to one which avoids confusion, conflict and false association … defendants have failed to do so.”
The new law suit extends to servicemark infringement, false designation of origin, brand dilution, cybersquatting and unfair competition over “attempts to operate a directly competitive festival” close to the Coachella festival site and Filmchella is “trading on the goodwill of [the] plaintiffs’ famous Coachella festival” by describing its event as the “Coachella for movies” and “the rock’n’roll festival for filmmakers and fans” and registering the web address filmcoachella.com (which redirects to filmchella.com).
Last year, Coachella took legal action against the organisers of a rival festival called “Hoodchella,” which was set to be held nearby and during same month. Coachella won a settlement in March forcing the new event to change its name to “Noise in the Hood.” In May, Coachella took action against fashion retailer Urnan Outfitters, claiming it was selling clothes marketed under the Coachella name aimed at the event’s concertgoers. The case is pending.
Coachella has said that it has “no objection to defendants’ holding a festival of their own, regardless of whether it features movies, films, music or otherwise” and that “Plaintiffs appreciate the enthusiasm shown by defendants but they simply want defendants to use a distinctive name of their own that does not infringe or trade on the goodwill of plaintiffs’ famous ‘Coachella’ marks”. It appears Filmchella has changed “some of their marketing materials” to read Filmchilla with a ‘I’ – but that clearly hasn’t gone far enough and the plaintiffs say that they “simply want[s] defendants to use a distinctive name of their own”.
The promoter is seeking monetary damages, along with a restraining order that prevents the defendants from, using or registering any name similar to Coachella or engaging in “unfair competition” with the Coachella festival.