The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival organizers, Goldenvoice, filed a lawsuit against Ghana’s Afrochella for alleged trademark infringement. RollingStone obtained the lawsuit filed in California federal court on Wednesday. It claims that the similarity in the names will create confusion.
Read about the lawsuit below:
1. Coachella Sues Afrochella
The lawsuit states that Afrochella is “intentionally trading on the goodwill of [Coachella and Goldenvoice’s] well-known COACHELLA and CHELLA festivals and trademarks by actively promoting music events in the United States and in Ghana using the confusingly similar mark ‘AFROCHELLA’ and by fraudulently attempting to register Plaintiffs’ actual trademarks as their own.”
Furthermore, it points out that Afrochella attempted to patent both “Coachella” and “Chella” in Ghana. “Defendants even went so far as to apply in Ghana to register Coachella and Chella as their trademarks, using the same stylization as Plaintiffs’ registered Coachella (stylized) mark.”
2. The Background
In 2019, Goldenvoice warned Afrochella about infringing on the festival’s trademark.
“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,” AEG (who owns Goldenvoice)wrote to Afrochella organizers in 2019.
“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 authorized 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 about owning your own Facebook page comment that your festival name is merely trading on the goodwill of the Coachella mark.”
Despite that initial warning, and following a pandemic-postponed fest in 2020, Afrochella returned to Accra, Ghana in 2021 and 2022. However, with the festival set to expand to South Africa later this month and organizers hosting offshoot U.S. events, Goldenvoice filed a lawsuit to further protect what they claim is ownership of all things “-chella.”
Afrochella 2022 is scheduled to take place on December 28 and 29 at El Wak Stadium in Accra, Ghana. Artists on the bill include headliners Burna Boy and Stonebwoy, as well as Ayra Starr, Fireboy DML, Black Sherif, and more.
Afrochella “is a celebration of Africa’s diverse culture and the vibrant work of African creatives and entrepreneurs.”
“The festival is designed to elevate and highlight the thrilling and thriving millennial talent in Africa by introducing an interactive event that teaches, explains and explores various cultures through a pioneering approach. Afrochellans will experience art and creative activations from the continent, celebrate African music, and taste premium and cultured cuisine.”