Apr 20, 2016

Coachella Organisers Sue Event Company for Trademark Infringement

The organisers of the largest US music festival, Coachella, have accused an events and marketing company of buying and re-selling festival wristbands and backstage passes infringing their trademark rights.

The claim has been issued in California, and it applies an injunction and damages against Particle LLC, its owner Denise Kozlowski, and as many as 20 as yet unknown defendants who may have transferred their duly-authorised backstage passes to her.

According to the papers filed by Coachella Music Festival and Goldenvoice LLC, a division of AEG Live, which is the owner of the registered trademark, unlike tickets, backstage passes are security documents that are never sold and are void if transferred,.

The complaint stated that any member of the public who purchases an entrance wristband or backstage pass from the infringing company would be denied access to the music festival.

The alledged infringer, Particle, is also accused of infringing the trademark 'Coachella' because it used this name when advertising in a town located closely to where the festival is held.

It is claimed that the language from an email sent out earlier this month by Kozlowski implicates her as a 'scalper' i.e. someone who purchases large quantities of goods (usually tickets) early with the sole intention of re-selling them to the public at a higher price at a later date (usually closer to the event date), where the demand is there.  It read:

"I also have VIP, Guest and Artist passes for sale. Please enquire for more details."

This is the second case brought by Coachella's organisers this year. In February 2016, they sued 'Hoodchella', another LA-based festival. In this case, Coachella accused them of trade mark infringement on the grounds of similarity and confusion between the two names. However, Hoodchella subsequently rebranded itself 'Noise in the Hood'.

According to Coachella, "money damages cannot fully repair the damage that will be done to Coachella's reputation and goodwill if it must turn away would-be festival attendees because they have unwittingly purchased void passes from Defendant's".

Coachella passes, which usually sell for hundreds of dollars, have sold out annually in most recent years. The festival forbids the re-sell or transfer of wristbands, however, scalpers continue to make sales via online sites. Coachella, remains strict on its policy of denying scalped ticket holders entry to the festival if caught.

Posted by: in: News, Trade Marks

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