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Coachella sues Afrochella for trademark infringement

By | Published on Monday 10 October 2022


AEG’s Goldenvoice – as owner of the Californian music festival Coachella – has sued yet another event that uses a name that ends in Chella, accusing said event’s organisers of trademark infringement.

This time it’s an event outside the US – the Ghana-based Afrochella – that is being sued, although it was the staging of Afrochella events within California that seemingly prompted legal action in the American courts.

Afrochella launched in 2017, with one of its founders, Edward Elohim, basically admitting on Twitter at the time that the name was selected because he saw his event as an African version of the Coachella festival.

Goldenvoice has been pretty litigious in recent years when it comes to other American events that use ‘Chella’ in their brands, it owning US trademarks for both the Coachella and Chella names.

But could Afrochella have avoided such litigation had it only used its own version of the Chella brand on an entirely different continent to the original Coachella festival?

Possibly. Though the new lawsuit filed in the US courts last week is accompanied by another being pursued by Goldenvoice in Ghana itself which isn’t linked to the Californian Afrochella shows. However, that particular legal action was probably mainly prompted by the organisers of Afrochella not only seeking to register their own brand with the trademark registry in Ghana, but the Coachella and Chella brands too.

“Not simply content to imitate and attempt to trade on the goodwill of Chella and Coachella”, Goldenvoice’s US lawsuit states, “defendants even went so far as to apply in Ghana to register Coachella and Chella as their own trademarks, using the exact same stylisation as plaintiffs’ registered Coachella mark”.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit goes on, “this year defendants expanded their infringing conduct into the US by promoting, presenting, and/or sponsoring at least seven different music events using the mark ‘Afrochella’ in the Los Angeles area, and have refused to curtail their infringing use of plaintiff’s registered marks, necessitating the filing of this federal lawsuit”.

“Plaintiffs have no objection to defendants holding musical events or festivals of their own – whether in the US, Ghana or elsewhere”, the lawsuit adds, “but defendants must adopt and use an event name and mark that avoid a likelihood of consumer confusion and false association with plaintiff’s Coachella and Chella festivals and with the Coachella marks”.

The lawsuit accuses Afrochella’s owners of trademark infringement, false designation of origin, cybersquatting and unfair competition.