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The word 'Moechella' is here to stay, founder says, despite trademark refusal

In spite of the legal loss, the name "Moechella" is still expected to be widely used in the Washington region.

WASHINGTON — D.C.’s Moechella movement was dealt another setback after its application to trademark the name "Moechella" was refused, court records show.

Justin Johnson, who also goes by the name Yaddiya, filed an application to trademark the name in April 2021. The name Moechella was born as a way to unify Washingtonians frustrated by both local and nationwide instances of racial injustice, Johnson said. 

"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 said by phone Thursday.

Records from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office showed Johnson filed paperwork to abandon the application for trademark, and the case was halted on Aug. 2. Coachella, known for its large, outdoor concert in California, challenged the application citing possible consumer confusion and "negative publicity" surrounding the shooting death of 15-year-old Chase Poole that followed Mochella’s Juneteenth celebration.

"The negative publicity generated by applicant's Moechella event reflects negatively on opposer," Coachella attorneys wrote in court filings.

Johnson told WUSA 9 in July that he was aware his application could be denied but was hoping the two sides could work out a compromise.

"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," said Nick Kelly, legal counsel for Johnson. "Moechella has always been free, using music to advocate for the issues facing the people of Washington, D.C."

The denial of the application isn't expected to deter locals from using the Moechella name either, Johnson says. It's both widely and frequently used throughout the Washington metro and synonymous with the region's ongoing justice movement.

Johnson says he is still confident the future of the Moechella movement is bright, and he is focused now on addressing gun violence in the District.

As for the feud between Johnson and Coachella, it isn't clear where the two sides stand now or if additional legal action could be on the horizon.

Coachella did not respond to WUSA9's request for comment.

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