Coachella and Goldenvoice contend in the lawsuit, which was submitted on Wednesday (October 5), that Afrochella is Using the confusingly similar mark “AFROCHELLA,” Coachella and Goldenvoice are accused of “intentionally trading on the goodwill of [their] well-known COACHELLA and CHELLA festivals and trademarks by actively promoting music events in the United States and Ghana and by fraudulently attempting to register Plaintiffs’ actual trademarks as their own.”
This comes three years after Goldenvoice owner AEG warned the Afrochella festival not to use its trademark without permission.
“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 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 to own your own Facebook page comment that your festival name is merely trading on the goodwill of the Coachella mark.”
In addition to the similarly named festivals, Goldenvoice claims in their lawsuit that Afrochella organizers even attempted to patent both “Coachella” and “Chella” in Ghana, and noted that the “Chella” portion of their Afrochella logo uses a nearly identical font as Coachella does.
“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 stylization as Plaintiffs’ registered Coachella (stylized) mark,” the lawsuit states.
The filing of this federal lawsuit was necessary because the Afrochella organizers “expanded their infringing conduct into the United States by promoting, presenting, and/or sponsoring at least seven different music events using the mark Afrochella’ in the Los Angeles area, and have refused to curtail their infringing use of Plaintiff’s registered marks.”
Goldenvoice also cited a tweet from a user that claimed, “Tbh first time I saw the term Afrochella I thought Coachella was trying to infiltrate the African sector,” as proof that music lovers are mixing up the two festivals.
Additionally, the lawsuit mentioned how the North American-based domain of the African festival’s website aids in luring festival-goers from the United States: “A substantial portion of the revenue generated from the travel tours sold on the website accessible at the afrochella.com domain name are from US-based customers.”
Goldenvoice is requesting a $100,000 cybersquatting domain name settlement as well as an urgent restraining order against using the Afrochella moniker and “damages for trademark and service mark infringement and unfair competition.”
On December 28 and 29, El Wak Stadium in Accra, Ghana, will host Afrochella 2022. Headliners Burna Boy and Stonebwoy are among the performers on the lineup, along with Ayra Starr, Fireboy DML, Black Sherif, and more names.