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Indigenous Tribe Slams Coachella for Trademark Suit Over New Year’s Eve Event

Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians wasn’t sued directly because of sovereign immunity, but called the fest’s legal action against Live Nation “a direct attack on us and the…

Empire Polo Grounds, where Coachella takes place, in 2018.

Amy Harris/Invision/AP

UPDATE (11/23): The Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians slammed Coachella for its trademark infringement suit against Live Nation over the tribe’s upcoming New Year’s Eve event, originally known as “Coachella Day One 22.” While Coachella and its parent company, Goldenvoice, didn’t sue Twenty-Nine Palms directly because of sovereign immunity, the tribe’s chairman, Darrell Mike, tells Rolling Stone, “[T]his suit is a direct attack on us and the region.”

He continued, “The event is developed as a thank you at no cost to the community and an attempt to bring people together safely to celebrate what we hope will be a prosperous 2022. AEG and Goldenvoice have taken ‘ownership’ of a name via trademark rights to an area they fully believe they ‘founded’, even though their event does not take place in Coachella, California, but rather in Indio, California. Amidst this matter, vendors are being threatened that if they work with the Tribe to produce Day One 22, they will be ousted as vendors for future AEG events. This puts local families at financial risk and crippling the community economically. This is wrong, especially at a time of challenge during Covid.

“Our tribe and other nations have been in the region for thousands of years, relocated to reservations not of our choice, where we have had to develop businesses and governments to preserve our communities, culture, and heritage. Entertainment happens to be a part of our economic diversity for longer than Goldenvoice has produced their Festival. Although we were under no obligation to do so, we have respectfully removed ‘Coachella’ from the title of our event on marketing and sales materials living online. We hope that we can move away from this matter, so Day One 22 taking place at Coachella Crossroads, in Coachella, California, can be celebrated in the spirit for which it was created.”


Coachella has won a temporary restraining order against Live Nation to stop it from selling tickets to or advertising an upcoming New Year’s Eve event under its original name, “Coachella Day One 22.” 

Coachella and its parent company Goldenvoice (which is owned by AEG) filed a lawsuit over the “Day One 22” event last week, claiming the original name would confuse concertgoers. The temporary restraining order issued Monday, Dec. 20, doesn’t offer final judgment on the case, but Judge R. Gary Klausner ruled that Coachella and Goldenvoice are “likely to succeed” in proving the infringement. While the ruling will force some branding changes, it will not prevent the concert from going ahead as planned.

Lawyers for both Coachella/Goldenvoice and Live Nation did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s requests for comment. 

“Day One 22” is being produced by the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians, an indigenous tribe that operates the venue, Coachella Crossroads, which is about five miles from the Empire Polo Grounds where Coachella takes place. Twenty-Nine Palms had previously tried to register a “Coachella Crossroads” trademark for various events, including music, but that was rebuffed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office due to potential confusion with Coachella’s mark. Twenty-Nine Palms successfully revised their application, saying they would only host community and sports events.

But since then, Twenty-Nine Palms has promoted musical events at Coachella Crossroads, including a May 2021 concert by Toby Keith. Its “Day One 22” concert is set to take place on New Year’s Eve and will feature performances from Lil Wayne, E-40, Shaquille O’Neal (performing as DJ Diesel), and Getter. Coachella has accused Twenty-Nine Palms of causing confusion with its original event name and “adopt[ing] elements” of Coachella’s advertising for its promotional material, but the fest’s main gripe is with Live Nation. (A footnote in the ruling notes that Coachella has not sued Twenty-Nine Palms because the tribe is “entitled to sovereign immunity and therefore not subject to suit.”)

Back in October, Coachella sent Live Nation a cease-and-desist letter over “Coachella Day One 22,” and in turn, Live Nation changed the event name on its listing to “Day One 22.” The infringement suit was filed, however, because one ticket option is still called “Coachella Complimentary Offer” and “Coachella Day One 22” still appears in certain advertising material. Another defendant in the case, Bluehost, which hosts the website CoachellaCrossroads.com, was also hit with a cease-and-desist order over its promotion of the event (Bluehost did not refute the temporary restraining order application).

In issuing the temporary restraining order, Judge Klausner said Coachella and Goldenvoice would likely suffer “irreparable harm” if the event went forward under its original name. He ruled that Live Nation only put forth one argument — that “assertions about Coachella’s incredible success demonstrate that its reputation will not suffer material harm from Twenty-Nine Palms’ ‘one-night New Year’s celebration’” — but called it “uncompelling.” The judge added: “This argument is simply unpersuasive and does not rebut the presumption of irreparable harm.”

From Rolling Stone US