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Judge declines to extend restraining order against Live Nation in Coachella trademark dispute

By | Published on Thursday 30 December 2021

A US judge has declined to extend a restraining order secured by AEG against its main rival Live Nation in relation to a New Years event happening in the Californian city of Coachella. While Live Nation’s Ticketmaster platform is banned from referring to that event by its original name – which included the word Coachella – it can still sell tickets to the mini-festival.

AEG’s Goldenvoice division went legal over the Coachella Day One 22 festival earlier this month, arguing that the name of the event implied an official connection with its much more famous Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival, and therefore infringed its Coachella trademark.

Coachella Day One 22 is actually being promoted by the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians at an entertainment complex it operates called Coachella Crossroads, which is adjacent to its Spotlight 29 Casino. However, the leadership of the Native American tribe is arguably shielded from legal action due to sovereign immunity.

Therefore, Goldenvoice decided to sue Live Nation, which was marketing and selling tickets to the event via its Ticketmaster platform. As part of that legal action, Goldenvoice secured the restraining order prohibiting Ticketmaster from listing any event that uses the Coachella brand.

However, that didn’t really make much difference because, by the time the court had issued the order, Ticketmaster had already changed the name of the event on its platform to simply Day One 22. Though, at that point, the original name, ie Coachella Day One 22, was still being used on the websites of Coachella Crossroads and the Spotlight 29 Casino.

Goldenvoice asked the judge hearing the case – R Gary Klausner – to extend the restraining order against Live Nation and Ticketmaster so that it blocked them from selling tickets to the Coachella branded event, even if they were using the abbreviated title on their websites and apps.

However, Klausner denied that request, concluding that Live Nation and Ticketmaster were no longer directly infringing Goldenvoice’s Coachella trademark. And while Goldenvoice might argue there is still a case for holding the plaintiffs liable for contributory infringement, that argument would likely fail, the judge reckoned, given Live Nation and Ticketmaster have no control over how their clients publicise their events.

The judge also acknowledged that the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians had continued to promote its event under the original name after his original injunction had been issued, but said that wasn’t really a surprise, given the tribe is not a party to Goldenvoice’s litigation.

Actually, the tribe’s venue and casino are now promoting the event as ‘Day One 22 NYE at Coachella Crossroads’ on their websites, so they have also amended the show’s official title. Although, obviously, the venue’s name means the word Coachella is still pretty prominent in the marketing, more so than if it was just included as information about the location of the event.

Either way, the Chairman of the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians, Darrell Mike, welcomed the latest ruling, telling reporters: “[This] is a win for the tribe, the community and our ticketing partners at Live Nation. As a community and nation who reside in Coachella, California, we are equally THRILLED that our outdoor venue, Coachella Crossroads, will be able to continue operation under its given name”.

He added: “The strong-arming of Goldenvoice and its parent company AEG to take reign over a name of a region and businesses who choose to identify with it is disrespectful to small and large business operations, those under their employ and the indigenous people who live within the valley”.