Coachella sues Urban Outfitters for using festival's name to sell apparel

Coachella Music Festival and Urban Outfitters might appear as two peas in a hipster pod, but the retailer is facing a lawsuit for allegedly trying to capitalize on the event’s image.

The annual California music festival told a federal court late Tuesday that Urban Outfitters Inc. through its affiliate Free People is improperly using a number of “famous” and long-registered Coachella trademarks to sell a number of products incorporating the Coachella name.

The products at issue include Free People’s “Coachella Boot,” “Coachella Mini Dress,” “Coachella Pocket Tank” and “Coachella Valley Tunic.”

Although Coachella has its own range of branded goods and services, including apparel, Urban is allegedly “trading on the goodwill and fame” of the Coachella marks with the “Coachella” branded apparel and its use of Coachella as a keyword trigger in online advertising, as well as in display URLs.

“As a result, a Google search for ‘Coachella clothing’ results in an advertisement for Defendants’ infringing goods,” Coachella said in its complaint.

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

Urban’s use of the marks is allegedly part of an effort to “misdirect consumers” searching for Coachella and its branded products to Urban and Free People and its “unauthorized apparel.”

Coachella also has a license agreement with H&M, allowing the fast fashion retailer market a related line of jewelry and apparel, as well as Pandora AS, also for a line of jewelry, leaving Urban’s allegedly infringing products to directly compete with legally sponsored goods.

While Coachella said Urban’s use of its marks is likely to cause “confusion” and “deceive consumers,” it also said the misbranding will dilute the Coachella brand “by blurring or by tarnishment” and amounts to unfair competition.

Moreover, Coachella said Urban “ignored Plaintiff’s demands to cease their unlawful conduct,” forcing the event to file suit in order to “protect the famous Coachella marks and to protect the public.”

Coachella added that it’s April cease and desist demand “was not the first time” it had to “make such demands” of Urban.

Coachella asked the court for unspecified treble damages and for an order demanding that Urban remove from sale any infringing items and engage in “corrective advertising” to inform consumers that the festival is in no way affiliated with Urban or Free People.

Since its first show in 1999 with about 25,000 attendees, Coachella has grown to a multiday music festival that now draws estimated crowds of 600,000 and includes camping and various retail and food venues and art exhibits.

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