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Moechella co-founder reacts to Coachella copyright lawsuit

The lawsuit claims the similar names and logos "creates a likelihood of confusion" over who sponsors the event.

WASHINGTON — The creators of Coachella are suing the people behind D.C.-based Moechella, claiming trademark infringement and that the name and logo deceive the public and cashes in on the "goodwill" of the popular Southern California music festival, court documents say.

Court documents dated Wednesday say that the people behind Moechella are "intentionally trading on the goodwill of [the Coachella creators] and the well-known COACHELLA and CHELLA trademarks by using the confusingly similar mark 'MOECHELLA.'"

Additionally, the suit claims that negative news stories about Moechella "cause harm" to the brand and the people who put on Coachella. 

"I don't think anyone that as been to Moechella has been to the Coachella Valley or the Coachella Festival," said Moechella co-creator Justin Johnson, who goes by the name 'Yaddiya'.  "Our event is elevating and highlighting the culture of the city. I don't see how anyone that goes to Coachella or Moechella is confused about what it is."  

The lawsuit specifically referenced the shooting at 14th and U streets in. Northwest D.C. where a 15-year-old boy was killed and two adults and a DC Police officer were shot last June.

The Coachella creators claim that "incidents such as the shooting death and melee cause harm to Plaintiffs, particularly given Defendants' infringing use of similar looking and sounding MOECHELLA marks, which cause confusion as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of Defendants' events with those of Plaintiffs, resulting in reputational harm" to Coachella.

The lawsuit claims that Moechella has been "repeatedly requested" to stop using the name Moechella and any similar names, but they have refused.

Johnson filed for a Moechella trademark in April of 2021 but filed paperwork to abandon that application in August of 2022.

In August, Johnson told WUSA9 that the name Moechella was born as a way to unify Washingtonians frustrated by both local and nationwide instances of racial injustice.

Credit: Court documents
Coachella has sued the creators of D.C.-based "Moechella" claiming trademark infringement.

"Moechella has been a space to uplift the people in the underserved communities in DC and continue to push out culture forward," said Johnson in a recent interview with Get Up DC Anchor Larry Miller. 

Johnson continues to make clear that the word Moechella is here to stay.

"They only way they're going to stop me from saying Moechella, is if they come to D.C. and take the words out of my mouth," Johnson told WUSA9 last year.

Johnson's legal counsel told WUSA9 last year that "The name Moechella came about as a juxtaposition and parody of the major pop festivals, specifically Coachella, which have become party grounds for the rich and famous, unaffordable for the average Washington, D.C. resident."

>Read the lawsuit for yourself below:

Coachella, was first held in 1999 in the desert of California in Indio, which is a city in Riverside County. In addition to Coachella, which is held over the period of two weekends, its founders also launched Chella in 2018. Wednesday's lawsuit states Chella is a "festival which celebrates musicians, art, culture and community."

For context, this year's Coachella festival is slated for April 14-16 and April 21-23, and Chella is a festival that will run the week between those two weekends.

Coachella is widely known for drawing some of the biggest names in music, which is cited in the lawsuit. 

The document cites a list of big-name performers who have performed at the music festival which included Beyoncé, Beastie Boys, Bjork, Cardi B, Coldplay, Daft Punk, Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg, Foo Fighters, Guns N’ Roses, Jane’s Addiction, Jay-Z, Ye (previously named Kanye West), Lady Gaga, Leonard Cohen, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Prince, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Cure, and The Weeknd.

Coachella's lawsuit claims the similar name of Moechella, as well as its similarly looking logo, "creates a likelihood of confusion" about who puts on the event "and is likely to falsely suggest a sponsorship, connection, license, or association" with Coachella "despite the fact that no such relationship exists."

The lawsuit asks the Court for unspecified monetary damages because the "acts of trademark infringement have irreparably harmed" Coachella's brand.

They're asking the Court to issue a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and permanent injunction to prevent "any infringing activity including advertising, promoting, marketing, franchising, selling, or offering for sale any goods or services in connection" to Coachella or any similar names or logos.

They also want the Court to ensure Moechella cannot be trademarked in the U.S.

Further, Coachella wants to "be awarded all profits resulting from [Moechella's] infringement."

WUSA9 has attempted to reach out to the people behind Moechella for comment on the lawsuit but have been unsuccessful.

Read the full lawsuit by clicking here.

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