Afrochella may have to botch their plans of expansion into the US. We’ll tell you why.
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and its organizer, Goldenvoice, are suing Ghana’s Afrochella for alleged trademark infringement.
In the lawsuit filed in a California federal court on Wednesday (October 5), Coachella and Goldenvoice claim 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.”
Coachella seems to be on the trademark warpath as they sued Live Nation Entertainment early this year for contributory trademark infringement. The grumbling was in regards to an event organized and promoted by Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians called Coachella Day One 22. Coachella and Goldenvoice sued Live Nation Entertainment for selling passes to the event, which supposedly infringed upon Coachella’s brand names. The claim was settled recently.
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Coachella issued warnings to Afrochella as far back as 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 (which owns Goldenvoice) 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 to own your own Facebook page comment that your festival name is merely trading on the goodwill of the Coachella mark.”
According to Entertainment law pundits, Under the Paris Convention of 1883 there is the possibility of Afrochella being insulated against the trademark infringement law under the principle of NATIONAL INTEREST. However, with Afrochella’s plans of expanding into the US (the home of Coachella), the organizers of Afrochella (Culture Music Group) would be infringing on the Coachella trademark franchise. The US Patent and Trademarks Office defines trademark infringement as “the unauthorised use of a trademark or service mark on or in connection with goods and/or services in a manner that is likely to cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods and/or services”.
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However, this lawsuit could be dicey for Afrochella as the lawsuit also noted that the African festival’s website utilizes a North American-based domain. This aspect of the suit would require a Cybersquatting determination by a panel of experts.
In addition to an immediate restraining order on the Afrochella name, Goldenvoice is also seeking “damages for trademark and service mark infringement and unfair competition,” as well as $100,000 over claims of cybersquatting domain names.
Needless to say, Afrochella may have to reconsider alternatives, and fast, as they respond to Coachella’s petition.
Twitter is abuzz with speculation and opinions about the lawsuit.
While American celebrity Chance the Rapper has thrown his full support behind Afrochella via a Twitter post, Ghanaian Tweeps seem anxious considering the events leading to the lawsuit.
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.