Urban Outfitters Facing Copyright Infringement Lawsuit from Coachella

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Coachella and Retailer Urban Outfitters are in the midst of a lawsuit citing Copyright infringement.  Coachella and Urban Outfitters go hand-in-hand, like peanut butter and jelly. If one ceased to exist I believe the other would disappear into thin air, evaporating away without being seen. Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has become one of the biggest of its kind in the country and Urban Outfitters has grown into a retail giant, catering to hipster music festival styles. However, these two friends don’t seem to be getting along very well right now.

In a recent lawsuit filed by Coachella, the behemoth music festival claims Urban Outfitters wrongfully used the “Coachella” brand name on item names and descriptions. Coachella is also accusing Urban Outfitters of using the name as a metatag to “mislead” customers to buy certain products. The lawsuit was filed on March 14 in the U.S. Central District Court of California. Coachella and promoters Goldenvoice claim that Free People – Urban Outfitters “mature, contemporary” subsidiary, is infringing on the Coachella trademark and violating trademark law by selling items with the “Coachella” brand name.

A report by LA Weekly states:

“The lawsuit claims Free People is selling at least four items that use the name ‘Coachella,’ and by way of example cites a web page on FreePeople.com that lists a “Coachella Valley Tunic.” A description of the item on the page calls it “the quintessential summer musical festival piece to throw on and go with.”  However, the webpage has since been taken down.

Coachella also believes Urban Outfitters purchased keyword advertising from Google which used the word “Coachella” which would direct Google search results to several of their products. In the lawsuit, Coachella claims Urban Outfitters ignored previous attempts and demands to discontinue the use of the name, including a cease-and-desist sent to Urban Outfitters on April 16, 2016.

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO):

What is a trademark or service mark?  

  • A trademark is generally a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.  
  • A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. Throughout this booklet, the terms “trademark” and “mark” refer to both trademarks and service marks.

While Coachella has several filings, this is likely the one that they allege infringement upon. by Urban Outfitters:

One of Coachella’s trademark registrations filed via the USPTO.

According to Perdue University the legal penalties for copyright infringement are:

  1. Infringer pays the actual dollar amount of damages and profits.
  2. The law provides a range from $200 to $150,000 for each work infringed.
  3. Infringer pays for all attorneys fees and court costs.
  4. The Court can issue an injunction to stop the infringing acts.
  5. The Court can impound the illegal works.
  6. The infringer can go to jail.

In the lawsuit, Coachella is demanding that the courts prevent Urban Outfitters from using the Coachella trademark on its products, as well as to award damages to Coachella that include all profits Urban Outfitters already made from the products. Hopefully, the situation can resolve itself without too much bad blood because realistically, the two need each other.  The lawsuit even believes so, according to LA Weekly – “The suit describes Urban Outfitters’ look as drawing largely “from bohemian, hipster, ironically humorous, kitschy, retro and vintage styles.” Here’s to becoming friends again…

via Giphy

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