By Rahma Ramadhan
rademarks include distinctive signs
like symbols or words that identify
particular goods or services as those
provided or produced by a specific person
or entity. These distinctive marks, words or
symbols help consumers identify particular
goods and services mostly due to their repu-
table nature and quality.
Festivals are a great avenue for entertain-
ment providing people with unique experi-
ences. As per the World Intellectual Property
Organisation (WIPO), most cultural and arts
festivals use different forms of marketing, mer-
chandising and promotion of their registered
trademarks to create and develop their brand
leading to growth and development of their
reputation over time.
Major festivals have become brands in their
own right owning multiple trademark rights ex-
tending beyond entertainment services to cloth-
ing and apparels, food and a range of different
WIPO states that there can thus be a num-
ber of trademarks arising from such festivals
namely: Traditional involving name and image
and non-traditional trademarks involving mo-
tion marks for video clips, 3D marks for fes-
tival memorabilia and souvenirs, slogans for
promotional ads as well as television spots and
The strength of festivals’ brand is not only
determined by the lms screened and musical
performances but mainly from the unique ex-
periences created by them.
WIPO records indicate that trademarks have
previously been successfully registered by in-
digenous Australians in respect to cultural fes-
tivals. Proactive utilisation of trademarks and
other intellectual property assets can greatly
benefit festivals particularly by generating
additional income hence contributing to long-
term stability and nancial viability of such -
estas. Commercialisation of trademarks is also
a good income generating avenue for festivals.
For example, licensing a trademark to a third
party for use for a pre-determined duration and
fee. As owners of registered trademarks, festi-
vals can market their souvenirs and merchan-
dise on site at the festival.
Owing to emergence of new technology and
the prevalence of e-commerce, festivals can
also utilise different online platforms to pro-
mote the sale of their products.
Festival Trademark
Infringement: The Case
of “Coachella”
In order to fully enjoy and benet from their
intellectual property assets, festival organis-
ers and management ought to be cautious of IP
infringement by others especially around the
festival period. The organisers of the renowned
“Coachella” music festival in the United States
of America (USA) led a complaint in the Cen-
tral District of California against a major cloth-
ing company, Urban Outtters Inc and its sub-
sidiaries, Free People of PA LLC, for infringe-
ment of IP rights. Coachella festival organisers,
the Coachella Music Festival LLC and Golden
Voice LLC stated that the use of the distinctive
mark “Coachella” on clothing and apparels by
the clothing company and its subsidiary was
likely to falsely suggest a sponsorship, con-
nection, license or some sort of association
between Coachella, Urban Outtters and Free
People. Free People created a clothing line
featuring bohemian free-spirited attire, which
is the clothing of choice of most Coachella
attendees, and used the word “Coachella”
in marketing material and in the name and
description of certain items of clothing. For
instance, “Coachella Dress” and “Coachella
Boot”. The trademark rights to “Coachella” are
owned by Coachella Music Festival LLC and
Golden Voice LLC and they do provide licenses
to clothing companies for the use of the mark
“Coachella” in apparels.
In the suit, Coachella organisers sought
damages for intentionally creating a false as-
sociation as well as injunctive relief and cost
of the suit. The organisers also stated that the
unlawful use of the mark “Coachella” by the
clothing company constituted tortious interfer-
ence with Coachella’s ofcial licensees. Urban
Outtters, Free People and Coachella organiz-
ers did reach an out of court settlement and the
matter was thus dismissed without prejudice.
Considering the magnitude of Coachella festi-
vals, this case clearly demonstrates that indeed
festivals can own intellectual property rights in
its own name and also demonstrates that serious
legal action can be brought against infringers
on different grounds.
Trademarks in Arts and Cultural Festivals