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Coachella Is Suing Urban Outfitters and Free People for Trademark Infringement

INDIO, CA - APRIL 24: Music fans attend the performance of DJ Calvin Harris during day 3 of the 2016 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival Weekend 2 at the Empire Polo Club on April 24, 2016 in Indio, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)

Coachella and its parent company Goldenvoice are suing Urban Outfitters for products sold and marketed under the Coachella name, as Pitchfork and LA Weekly point out. The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, concerns apparel sold at Free People, Urban’s upscale sister store known for its extremely Coachella-esque looks.

Coachella filed the suit in California federal court Tuesday. It alleges that Free People sold clothes specifically marketed using the word Coachella, which the festival owns as a trademark, including a “Bella Coachella” line of clothes and a “Coachella Valley Tunic” that has since been pulled off of Free People’s website, but remains indexed on Google.

Intriguingly, the suit is equally concerned with Free People’s alleged use of “Coachella” in website URLs, metadata tags, and paid Google keywords, so that products that aren’t specifically branded with the name of the festival would still turn up in searches for terms like “Coachella outfit.” This is would seem like a brave new frontier of trademark infringement–though it isn’t the first time someone’s been sued over website metadata–and Coachella’s suit includes multiple screenshots of the website’s source code and URLs as exhibited evidence.

The suit alleges that Coachella’s business selling its own branded apparel has suffered due to Free People’s use of the name, and also mentions exclusive contracts with H&M and Pandora jewelry to sell Coachella-licensed apparel. The festival claims to have sent a cease-and-desist to Urban Outfitters in April 2016, and that the the company did not pull down the offending products and webpages.

Incidentally, some parts of the suit read like Coachella is hoping that in addition to deciding the case in its favor, the judge will don his or her own fringe top and floppy hat and join them out in the desert next year. “Coachella is about more than just music,” one line reads. “The festival’s venue also includes camping facilities for some 15,000 attendees (complete with a karaoke lounge and a general store), and an amazing selection of food and beverages from a wide range of restaurants. The festival also features an extensive art exhibit which includes many pieces of art (including sculpture and so-called “interactive” art). The music, the food, the art, and of course, the fellowship of other attendees, taken together, makes Coachella more than just a concert to attend—it truly is an experience.”

Damn. It really does sound nice.

We’ve reached out to representatives of both parties for comment on the suit, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.