Last week, the trademark lawyers for Coachella Music Festival, LLC and the famous music and arts festival’s producer, Goldenvoice, LLC (collectively, “Coachella”), asked a Los Angeles federal district court to hold a would-be film festival organizer in contempt of court for purportedly refusing to comply with Coachella’s previously granted motion for preliminary injunction.

How can a trademark lawyer help protect brand owners and their valuable intellectual property?

“Filmchella” Trademark Lawsuit and Preliminary Injunction

Robert Trevor Simms allegedly intended to host a film festival by the name of “Filmchella” in September and October 2017 in Southern California near the Coachella festival site. The festival was purportedly also advertised as “Coachella for Movies,” “Coachella Film Festival” and “FilmCoachella.” In August 2017, by and through its trademark lawyers, Coachella commenced a trademark infringement, false designation of origin, trademark dilution, cybersquatting and unfair competition lawsuit against Simms in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Case No. 17-cv-6059).

Shortly thereafter, Coachella’s trademark lawyers filed a motion for preliminary injunction to prevent Simms’ use of the FILMCHELLA mark, the COACHELLA-formative marks and confusingly similar variations thereof. In October 2017, the Court granted Coachella’s motion for preliminary injunction, finding that Coachella was likely to suffer irreparable harm pending trial absent injunctive relief.

Contempt Allegations

Three days after the Court granted the above-reference preliminary injunctive relief, Coachella’s trademark lawyers delivered cease-and-desist correspondence alleging, among other things, that Simms had merely rebranded the prospective festival as “Filmchilla” (changing one letter) and had failed to disconnect the filmchella.com and filmcoachella.com domain names from his promotional website. Defense counsel argued that the Court’s injunction was unclear, and allegedly “stated that because [Simms] was currently traveling out of the country, he would wait until [Simms’] return to discuss the matter with him.”

On November 7, 2017, by and through their trademark lawyers, Coachella filed a motion for an order to show cause requesting that Simms be held in civil contempt for violating the Court’s preliminary injunction. Coachella is seeking reimbursement of its costs and fees to date, as well as a fine payable by Simms of $1,000 per each day of non-compliance with the injunction.

How a Trademark Lawyer Can Help

Many trademark-related legal risks can be minimized or eliminated entirely by working with experienced intellectual property counsel before issues arise. A well-planned legal strategy can help protect trademark owners from substantial liability or even complete loss of a valuable trademark. Additionally, a trademark lawyer can help to carefully vet names, logos, designs, slogans and other business branding features to minimize the risk of unwelcome legal surprises down the road.