Just one month in advance of the 2017 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (“Coachella”), the festival’s owner, Coachella Music Festival, and its producer, Goldenvoice (together, “Coachella Management”), have filed a lawsuit against Urban Outfitters and Free People, alleging that the brands are on the hook for the unlawful use of Coachella trademarks on various garments and in connection with their websites.
The suit, which was recently filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleges trademark infringement, false designation of origin and unfair competition, and dilution under the federal law, tortious interference of contractual relationships, trademark dilution under California state law. According to Coachella Management’s complaint, Urban Outfitters and Free People “have ignored [its] demands to cease their unlawful conduct. Accordingly, [Coachella Management has] been forced to file this action to protect the famous Coachella [trade]marks and to protect the public.”
Coachella Management has registered numerous marks in connection with the festival, including, among others, the COACHELLA mark, the COACHELLA VALLEY MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL mark, and the stylized COACHELLA mark. They argue, “Through widespread and favorable public acceptance and recognition, these marks have become assets of incalculable value as symbols of [Coachella Management’s] products and services.”
As is their right as trademark holders, Coachella and Goldenvoice are “extremely selective in granting sponsorships and licensing of the Coachella [trade]marks, and have entered into a very limited number of highly sought-after licenses to use the Coachella Marks.” It has, in fact, granted such licenses to Swedish fast fashion retailer H&M and accessories brand Pandora, both of which maintain Coachella-themed collections.
But according to the complaint, that has not stopped Free People, a subsidiary of Urban Outfitters, from selling unauthorized Coachella-branded apparel on its websites. Beyond that, the retailer has used “the famous Coachella [trade]marks in the webpage titles, meta description tags, meta keyword tags and URLs for pages containing the directly competitive goods.”
As for the claims of tortious interference of contractual relationships, Coachella Management asserts that in selling the infringing, unauthorized, and unlicensed apparel, Urban Outfitters and Free People “have induced, and unless enjoined, will continue to induce … authorized Coachella licensees/sponsors to breach their contracts.”
Urban Outfitters’ and Free People’s “unauthorized use of the Coachella [trade]marks creates a likelihood of confusion as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of [their] apparel, and is likely to falsely suggest a sponsorship, connection, license, or association” with the official Coachella festival Coachella Management, thus, seeks a temporary restraining order against the defendants, as well as preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and damages.
* The case is COACHELLA MUSIC FESTIVAL, LLC and GOLDENVOICE, LLC v. URBAN OUTFITTERS, INC. AND FREE PEOPLE OF PA LLC, Civil Action No. 2:17-cv-20207 (SDNY).