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Coachella sues Ghana’s Afrochella over name

Goldenvoice and Coachella are suing Ghana’s Afrochella for copyright infringement.

Afrochella launched in 2017 and is due to return to El Wak Stadium, near Accra, from 28-29 December with headliners Burna Boy and Stonebwoy.

However, organisers are accused of “actively promoting music events in the United States and in Ghana using the confusingly similar mark ‘Afrochella’ and by fraudulently attempting to register plaintiffs’ actual trademarks as their own”.

According to a lawsuit filed in the US district court, the defendants “expanded their infringing conduct” into the US this year via the launch of “at least seven different” Afrochella events in the Los Angeles area and “have refused to curtail their infringing use of plaintiffs’ registered marks, necessitating the filing of this federal lawsuit”.

“Despite repeated requests from Plaintiffs, defendants have refused to adopt their own distinctive event name and marks, and as a result, instances of actual confusion have already appeared on social media,” it adds.

Referencing an August 2022 quote by Floatchella co-founder Edward Elohim, the defendants claim that Elohim essentially admitted the name was chosen “with specific intent to create a suggestion that it was a version of Coachella.

“Plaintiffs have been forced to file this action to protect their Chella and Coachella trademarks and service marks from infringement and unfair competition”

“Plaintiffs have been forced to file this action to protect their Chella and Coachella trademarks and service marks from infringement and unfair competition, as well as to protect the public from the likelihood of confusion,” adds the suit. “Defendants even went as far as to apply in Ghana to register Coachella and Chella as their own trademarks, using the exact same stylisation as plaintiffs’ registered Coachella mark.”

Goldenvoice and Coachella are requesting a trial by jury over allegations of trademark and service mark infringement, false designation of origin, cyber squatting and unfair competition.

None of the parties have commented on the case publicly .

Coachella Festival, whose 2023 edition is scheduled for Indio Park, California from 14-16 and 21-23 April next year, registered the “Coachella” trademark for musical events in 2006. It is far from the first time the festival has launched legal action against other events over the “Chella” name.

AEG and Live Nation settled their trademark dispute over a rival music event called ‘Coachella Day One 22’ earlier this year, while Connecticut’s Floatchella was renamed Floatfest, Music on the Mystic River following a complaint from Coachella promoter AEG Presents.

Elsewhere, Los Angeles festival Hoodchella was rechristened Noise in the Hood after coming to an “amicable agreement” with AEG/Goldenvoice following legal action in 2016, and a California court ruled in Coachella’s favour in its dispute with film festival Filmchella in 2017.


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