Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and its parent company, Goldenvoice, are suing popular retailer Urban Outfitters for trademark infringement. Urban Outfitter’s affiliate brand Free People, popular for their boho chic style clothing and accessories, has been using the festival’s trademarked name to sell products for the upcoming festival season.
The items in question include the “Coachella Boot” and “Coachella Pocket Tank,” among a handful of other items. According to the official accusation made by the music festival filed to the district court, the retailers are “trading on the goodwill and fame” of Coachella.
Legal representatives of Coachella stress that the festival has evolved into a brand that is about more than just music. Many rising fashion trends have been linked back to the growing popularity of the annual festival. If Free People continues to use their current marketing strategy, it will cause “dilution” to the brand, representatives claim. Further, if companies are able to use their trademarked name without consent, they will not be able to facilitate the way they are viewed by the public.
Besides the fact that Free People and Urban Outfitters could possibly tarnish the quality of their brand, Coachella is also worried that Free People has a very similar, if not the same, consumers. The suit claims that “the defendant’s apparel is directly targeting the same consumers who purchase the plaintiffs’ goods and/or its licensees and sponsors’ goods.” Since they have partnered with major brands such as H&M to sell clothing that is legally titled with affiliation to the festival, continuing to let other popular brands sell similar products linked to their brand will lead consumers to competitors of their company.
In April 2016, the festival sent a cease-and-desist to Urban Outfitters, which stated that the company either needed to change the name of its festival clothing line or remove the products using the word “Coachella” altogether. None of the items have been removed or renamed, so Coachella decided to take them to court.
It seems that the court will rule in favor of Coachella, since their claims of dilution and infringement are accurate. Urban Outfitters and Free People can testify that the items being sold are not covered under Coachella’s trademark, but since this is not the first time the company has taken part in socially unpopular behavior, it seems unlikely that the judges will have much sympathy.