Coachella organiser Goldenvoice files lawsuit against Afrochella

Featured image credit: Andrew Ruiz on Unsplash

Coachella promoter Goldenvoice has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the organisers of Ghanaian Afrobeats music festival Afrochella, it has been reported. 

The lawsuit was filed last week at a California district court, and comes several years after Goldenvoice parent company AEG warned Afrochella over the use of the name. 

According to the Rolling Stone article, AEG said to Afrochella organisers in 2019: “We understand that you are using Afrochella as the name of a music and arts festival. We note that your event is part of a larger celebration that is designed to attract those living abroad (including those in the United States) to return home to Africa.

“Regardless of the celebration or event, your use of Afrochella as the name of a music and arts festival is highly likely to create a likelihood of confusion and mistake as to the affiliation, connection, or association of you with AEG and with Coachella. 

“In particular, the public is likely to believe that you are authorised by, or affiliated with, AEG or Coachella. In fact you have even admitted that your event name and your event were inspired by Coachella. Similarly, comments to own your own Facebook page comment that your festival name is merely trading on the goodwill of the Coachella mark.”

Afrochella was postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic, but returned in 2021 and 2022. The festival has also revealed plans to expand to South Africa and host offshoot US events, prompting Goldenvoice to file the lawsuit. 

The lawsuit stated: “Not simply content to imitate and attempt to trade on the goodwill of Chella and Coachella, 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 (stylised) mark.”

Goldenvoice further provided evidence from social media demonstrating confusion between the two festivals. It also noted that the African festival’s website is a North American-based domain to draw US festival-goers.  

The promoter has asked for an immediate restraining order on the Afrochella name, as well as damages for trademark and service mark infringement and over $100,000 (£91,000/€103,000) over claims of cybersquatting domain names. This usually refers to the act of registering names of well-known companies as internet domains with the hope of re-selling them for a profit. 

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