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Coachella owner sues Moechella for trademark infringement

By | Published on Friday 3 February 2023

Coachella logo

AEG’s Goldenvoice is back in litigation mode to stop other events from using Chella in their name, it owning the original Chella event of course, ie California’s Coachella festival. This time a lawsuit has been filed against the organisers of the Washington DC-based Moechella.

First staged in 2019, this event describes itself as “an advocacy festival that is the intersection of culture and politics in DC”. It’s organised by a group called Long Live GoGo, a “collective of liberators” built around the funk sub-genre GoGo, which originated in the US capital.

Moechella organisers Justin Johnson and Kelsye Adams, Goldenvoice says in its new lawsuit, are “intentionally trading on the goodwill of plaintiffs and the well-known Coachella and Chella trademarks by using the confusingly similar mark ‘Moechella’ in connection with [their] own music and cultural events, entertainment services, and associated apparel”.

And that, the AEG company reckons, is trademark infringement.

If Coachella getting pissed off with Moechella sounds familiar, that’s because last year Goldenvoice formally objected to Johnson’s bid to trademark the Moechella brand. That resulted in Johnson withdrawing his trademark registration.

But, says the new lawsuit, “despite withdrawing the Moechella application, defendants have stated that they intend to continue using the Moechella marks. For example, defendant Johnson stated in an interview with one media outlet: “I’m not going to stop using the name. It’s a protest'”.

As in its complaint last year to the US Trademark Trial And Appeal Board, the new lawsuit also cites a shooting that occurred alongside last year’s Moechella event which resulted in the death of a fifteen year old.

“Plaintiffs contend that incidents such as the shooting death and melee cause harm to plaintiffs, particularly given defendants’ infringing use of similar looking and sounding Moechella marks, which cause confusion as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of defendants’ events with those of plaintiffs, resulting in reputational harm to plaintiffs”.

With all that in mind Goldenvoice wants the court to order Johnson and Adams to stop using any Chella brand for their event activities, and – of course – to pay the Coachella owner some lovely damages.