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Coachella sues Urban Outfitters for trademark infringement

Photo: Jason Kempin / Getty Images
Photo: Jason Kempin / Getty Images

In news that feels somewhat akin to watching two women named Skye getting into a bar fight over Instagram likes after a few too many Tito’s and crans, LA Weekly has details on a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Goldenvoice, the company behind Coachella, against Urban Outfitters. The issue at question is that of what most retailers are smart enough to refer to as “festival style,” the flowy, feathery, flowery, denim-shorts-clad manner of dress that’s become synonymous with both brands. Apparently, Urban Outfitters (and, specifically, its subsidiary Free People) has gotten bold as of late, and is just straight-up referring to said garments as “Coachella” clothes.

The suit alleges that Urban Outfitters ignored a cease-and-desist letter sent by the festival last year, and continues to market its “bohemian, hipster, ironically humorous, kitschy, retro, and vintage styles” using the Coachella name. LA Weekly references a “Coachella valley tunic,” which was still on the company’s website as of Wednesday night but has since been taken down. However, a search for “Coachella” on the Free People website still turns up 22 items that would look terrible on anyone over the age of 22 (dog toy excepted), and the company’s lace-and-fringe heavy (and extremely bra-unfriendly) “Bella Coachella” line is still up for sale on third-party retailers like Amazon.The former is a result of meta-tagging, which Goldenvoice alleges Urban Outfitters has also done by purchasing keyword ads on Google so its products come up when someone types “Coachella” into the search engine.

Why don’t the two brands just accept their fates and join together in lawful marketing bliss? Because Coachella has a licensing deal with Urban Outfitters rival H&M, for one. The company has also been known to take aggressive legal action to protect its brand in the past, forcing L.A.-based music festival Hoodchella to change its name last year. The festival itself, it should be noted, is named after the Coachella Valley, the desert area outside of Palm Springs where the festival takes place every year. We’ll see if that comes up in court, as the lawsuit is still ongoing.

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