In mid-December, the renowned Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival sued Live Nation Entertainment, an advertiser of a New Year’s Eve event known as Coachella Day One 22. This event is produced by the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians, operating as Coachella Crossroads, but Coachella did not sue them directly because they have alleged that they are protected by sovereign immunity. This is a legal doctrine that generally prevents Native American tribes from being sued in federal, state, and tribal courts.
The New Year’s Eve event is an outdoor live music festival featuring entertainment and performances. It is located at a venue just five miles from the site of the Coachella Valley festival, which occurs in the spring. Thus, the Coachella Valley festival brought a trademark infringement claim, arguing that the New Year’s Eve event was intentionally exploiting the goodwill of the Coachella Valley festival by imitating the branding of the more famous event. This could cause consumer confusion because people might think that the events were connected or operated by the same entity. The Coachella Valley festival has asserted that they do not seek to prevent the tribal group from hosting a festival, but only to require them to use a distinctive event name, venue name, and trademark.
A federal judge agreed with the Coachella Valley festival, issuing a temporary restraining order. This requires Live Nation Entertainment to stop promoting the New Year’s Eve event on its Ticketmaster platform under the Coachella Day One 22 name. The judge also ordered website host Bluehost to cease promoting “Coachella Day One 22.” However, the use of the name “Coachella Crossroads” has not been prohibited.
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