Coachella Music Festival this week filed a federal lawsuit calling for Urban Outfitters to immediately stop selling clothes using its name — and to pay damages for infringing on the festival's trademark.
Urban Outfitters is the parent company of Free People, which sold several items of clothing including the "Coachella Mini Dress," the "Coachella Boot," and the "Coachella Pocket" on its website as well as through other retailers, according to the lawsuit's complaint filed Tuesday. Urban Outfitters has not yet responded to the allegations.
"The quintessential summer musical festival piece to throw on and go with," read the description for the Coachella Valley Tunic, originally priced at $198 on freepeople.com.
The festival, which takes place in the Coachella Valley city of Indio, California, has trademarked the term Coachella as well as Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and Chella. Since 1999, the festival has grown from hosting 25,000 to 600,000 people over two weeks — and so have its business interests.
Coachella's suit accuses Urban Outfitters of trying to ride that wave of goodwill and name recognition. Using the Coachella name on its website may make it more attractive to customers, the complaint says, and it also takes advantage of the $625,000 that the festival spends to boost the Coachella name each year.
Their complaint also accuses Urban Outfitters of trying to confuse consumers and interfering with its contracts. The music festival does allow brands to use its name under a license: such as its deals with retailer H&M and jewelry maker Pandora. The unauthorized Free People Coachella-branded clothing get in the way of that, the complaint says.
Coachella warned Urban Outfitters with a cease-and-desist letter in April, the complaint says, but the clothing remained for sale. The lawsuit is seeking Free People and Urban Outfitters to immediately stop selling any items with the Coachella name as well as to pay damages and turn over any profits from the sale of Coachella items to the festival.
"Monetary damages cannot fully repair the damage to [Coachella's] reputation," the complaint says.
Claudia Koerner is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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