15 December 2021TrademarksMuireann Bolger

Coachella sues Live Nation for selling tickets for rival festival

The company behind the world-famous Coachella Valley Music and Artist Festival, Goldenvoice, is suing entertainment company, Live Nation, for trademark infringement.

The launch of a new festival, Coachella Day One 22, infringes on the original festival’s IP, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday, December 14, at the US District Court for the Central District for California.

Goldenvoice has accused Live Nation of contributory infringement by selling tickets to the new festival on its Ticketmaster website and mobile app, in a development first reported by music magazine, Billboard .

But Goldenvoice is barred from suing the festival’s actual organiser, the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians, because it is a Native American tribe that is protected from litigation under the principle of sovereign immunity.

The company has also named websites BlueHost, Unified Layer and Dost 21 in the complaint for also facilitating sales to the disputed event.

“Although Twenty-Nine Palms may have sovereign immunity, others contributing to the infringement do not have the same privilege and are subject to claims for contributory infringement as well as the court’s jurisdiction,” the complaint noted.

The first Coachella festival took place in California in 1999 and has been a regular fixture in the festival-goer’s calendar ever since. While the event had been postponed several times since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March 2020, it is scheduled to take place over two weekends in April of next year.

In the complaint, Goldenvoice accused Live Nation of contributory infringement, despite being sent two separate cease-and-desist letters since October.

The complaint alleged that the disputed new festival is advertised as an outdoor live music event that features numerous forms of entertainment and artists, and is located in close proximity to the site where the original Coachella is held.

According to the lawsuit, Coachella Day One 22 is described as “part festival, part carnival, and part circus” and that it advertises such features as LED installations, interactive environments, aerial artists, live painters and more—all echoing the original Coachella’s mixture of live music and art.

Goldenvoice claimed that it had entered into informal discussions with Twenty-Nine Palms, during which the latter’s counsel indicated that the venue would only be used for local community events, such as youth soccer and other small sporting events.

But the complaint contended that Twenty-Nine Palms went on to infringe by offering a directly competitive live music event that competes with the original festival’s fan base.

Press releases about Coachella Day One 22 describe it as “part festival, part carnival, and part circus,” while detailing the “aerial artists, live painters, live loopers, and stilt walkers” that will be performing during the live music event, which mimics Coachella’s carefully curated experience combining live music and art, noted Goldenvoice.

The complaint stated that despite repeated requests from Goldenvoice, Twenty-Nine Palms has refused to adopt its own distinctive event name or venue name and marks.

Twenty-Nine Palms even copied the original festivals distinctive advertising and marketing materials, using similar imagery including a Ferris wheel and sunset with palm trees.

Goldenvoice held that the companies are “intentionally trading on the goodwill of” the Coachella name by promoting “a directly competitive live music event,” and have ripped off the look of the original festival’s imagery.

These activities have irreparably harmed, and if not enjoined, will continue to irreparably harm the general public which has an inherent interest in being free from confusion, mistake, and deception, said the lawsuit.

Goldenvoice argued that this ongoing situation creates “a likelihood of consumer confusion and false association” between the unrelated events, and is seeking damages and a trial by jury.

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