Get Your Own Chella; Coachella Wins Preliminary Injunction Against Film Festival “Filmchella”

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On Tuesday, organizers of the Coachella music festival won a court order against an upstart movie festival using the name “Filmchella.”

U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner granted Coachella a preliminary injunction nearly two months after the popular music festival sued the similarly named film festival for trademark infringement.

According to Law360, Klausner said the balance of the equities was a major factor in his decision for the injunction, particularly since Filmchella was able to use the name at its inaugural event on Sept. 29.

“Since the order is being issued after the original Filmchella has taken place, any irreparable injury to [Filmchella organizer Robert Trevor] Simms would be relatively small,” Klausner wrote.

“Given the meaningful likelihood of confusion with Coachella, the damage to reputation and goodwill that flows from confusion, and the fact that Coachella has much more goodwill that it stands to lose, [Filmchella]’s risk of irreparable injury should the preliminary injunction be wrongly issued is ultimately outweighed.”

Coachella organizers sued Simms in August, claiming he used the name Filmchella to profit off of their music festival, which is arguably the most popular yearly music festival in the country. Both events feature entertainment and camping in Southern California, the suit said. Simms even went as far as describing his festival as “Coachella for movies.”

However, even after winning the court order on Tuesday, it’s still unclear if Coachella will win the case. Klausner said the music festival raised “serious questions” about consumer confusion but said the two events are “quite different” and that there’s no “concrete evidence” to suggest the two festivals will compete with each other.

Stephen Doniger, counsel for Simms and Filmchella, said he was very surprised and disappointed with Klausner’s decision to issue an injunction.

“This ruling does to bode well for new businesses,” Doniger said.”It allows big brands and trademark bullies to prevent use of a challenged marks without any showing of a likelihood of confusion simply because the large company has an established reputation and the new startup does not.”

It will definitely be interesting to see how things progress moving forward.

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