Coachella Festival Sues Urban Outfitters for Trademark Infringement

Music Fans attend day 2 of the 2016 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Club on April 16, 2016 in Indio, Calif.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella

Music Fans attend day 2 of the 2016 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Club on April 16, 2016 in Indio, Calif.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is suing Urban Outfitters for alleged trademark infringement and what it calls "trading on the goodwill and fame" of its brand. 

At issue in the complaint filed Tuesday in California federal court are items marketed by the Urban Outfitters subsidiary Free People using "Coachella" in the product name or description. These include Free People's "Coachella Boot," "Coachella Mini Dress," "Coachella Pocket Tank" and "Coachella Valley Tunic."

As well, Coachella complains that Urban Outfitters uses "Coachella" as a keyword to trigger online advertising and in the meta-data on its own website, intentionally misdirecting customers searching for officially branded or licensed merchandise. This is "likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive consumers" that Free People is affiliated with Coachella when that is not the case, the complaint alleges, saying this is "also likely to cause dilution by blurring or dilution by tarnishment."

It also states that as a result of Urban Outfitters' actions, "a Google search for 'Coachella clothing' results in an advertisement for Defendants' infringing goods."

The suit's full list of alleged offenses include trademark infringement, false designation of origin and unfair competition, dilution, common law tortious interference of contractual relationships, violation of California trademark law and violation of California unfair competition and law. According to Coachella and its parent company Goldenvoice, Urban Outfitters has ignored repeat previous demands to cease this allegedly unlawful conduct. 

Coachella's complaint states that "Coachella," "Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival" and a stylized version of "Coachella" that appears on its posters and most other materials are all trademarked, noting they have been in use since the annual festival's launch in 1999. As Coachella is also the name of a city and valley in Southern California, it is likely the defense will argue its use of the name does not relate to the festival. 

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified treble damages and an order demanding Urban Outfitters remove allegedly infringing items from sale, engage in "corrective advertising" and inform customers that the company is not a sponsor or licensee of the music festival. 

Coachella is sold out and will run April 14–16 and 21–23 this year. The festival's suit claims it brings 600,000 attendees to Southern California annually. 

Representatives of Coachella and Urban Outfitters could not be reached for comment.