On August 14, 2018, Coachella asked a California federal court to grant summary judgment in its favor in a trademark infringement dispute against movie festival “Filmchella.”

Coachella claims the mark “Filmchella” is confusingly similar to Coachella and that Filmchella has intentionally copied its mark without authorization for the purpose of gaining publicity. Coachella argued that Filmchella’s infringement was “flagrant” of both the “Coachella” and “Chella” trademarks owned by Coachella, and that Filmchella organizer, Robert Trevor Simms (“Simms”), has openly admitted to intentionally basing Filmchella on the bigger and more-widely known festival.

Simms claimed that he received proper authorization from the United States Patent and Trademark Office for “Filmchella,” based on the festivals geographical location in the Coachella Valley:

“The problem with plaintiffs’ memorandum is that none of its cited case law deals with the trademark of a geographical region, and thus should not be taken into consideration here…Trademarks dealing with a mark taken directly from a location must develop secondary meaning. Plaintiffs’ mark has unarguably developed secondary meaning for their music festival, but their film festival is non-existent. Filmchella is a film festival, and 90 percent of film festivals are named after their geographical location.”

This is not the first time Coachella has been aggressively sought to protect its trademark. In 2016, Coachella successfully sued a rival music festival called “Hoodchella,” which was forced to change their name to “Noise in the Hood.”

The suit is Coachella Music Festival LLC et al. v. Robert Trevor Simms et al., case number 2:17-cv-06059, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

* Lowe & Associates (“The Firm”) is a boutique entertainment and business litigation firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The Firm has extensive experience handling cases involving trademark and copyright law, having provided top quality legal services to its clients since 1991. The Firm is recognized in multiple publications for its many achievements and high ethical standards, including Martindale-Hubbell and Super Lawyers.

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