Hatred and envy over LOVELAND: trade mark feud in music festival-land

Syb Terpstra
27 Jan 2023

Loveland is a well-known Amsterdam-based house and techno festival that was first organised in 1995. Since then, Loveland has taken place (almost) every year. But now Loveland is having a trade mark dispute with one Ms Schmidt over the name of the Loveland festival. Or rather, no less than four trademark squabbles.

What is going on?

Ms Schmidt filed four trademark applications with the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) in 2021 for the word marks “Loveland Parade”, “Loveland Festivals”, “Loveland The Festival” and “The Loveland Festival”. Amsterdam-based festival Loveland was – understandably – not too happy about this.

Fortunately for the Amsterdam-based festival, it was able to parry Ms Schmidt’s requests quite easily. Indeed, Loveland owns two Benelux trade mark registrations (one word mark and one word/figurative mark, see image below) and one EU trade mark registration.

On the basis of these trade mark registrations from 1999, 2004 and 2013 respectively, Loveland filed opposition against Ms Schmidt’s filings. In four separate decisions (all containing almost exactly the same reasoning), BOIP grants the oppositions filed by Loveland. The decisions can be found here: (i) Loveland Parade, (ii) Loveland Festivals, (iii) Loveland The Festival, and (iv) The Loveland Festival.

Likelihood of confusion

BOIP considered that there was a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public because Ms Schmidt’s trade mark applications were visually, aurally and conceptually similar to the Loveland trade marks, and because the goods and services (for which the trade mark applications were made) were identical or similar. Ms Schmidt had also not contradicted Loveland’s argument in respect of the similarity of the goods and services. Therefore, BOIP concluded that the parties were apparently in agreement on this issue.

All four of Ms Schmidt’s trade mark applications were therefore refused and she was ordered to pay EUR 1,045 per opposition to Loveland.

Background to the conflict

All in all, the decisions by BOIP are not surprising. It does raise the question what is going on in the background here. After all, the trade mark filings seem bound to fail from the outset; at first glance, Loveland clearly has older (and quite strong) trade mark rights in the Benelux. It seems that Ms Schmidt knew that too. So why go through this whole (rather costly) exercise anyway? With four trade mark applications and as many lost oppositions, Ms Schmidt easily lost over EUR 5,000.

It seems that Ms Schmidt was of the opinion that Amsterdam-based Loveland had filed its trade mark applications in bad faith, because an event organised by Ms Schmidt called “Loveland Fesitval/Expo 2000” was allegedly cancelled one week before Loveland’s first trade mark application. In opposition proceedings, however, BOIP does not get around to assessing that argument. For that, Ms Schmidt would have had to initiate separate proceedings. Whether she has (now) done so is unknown, but it does not seem so.

Multiple Lovelands

Ms Schmidt is not left completely empty-handed. Indeed, she also filed applications for registration of the word marks “Loveland Festival” and “Loveland The Parade” in 2020 and 2021, respectively. For reasons unknown, Loveland did not file oppositions against these trade marks and these trade marks were therefore registered in class 41 for services relating to the organisation of festivals/events. So multiple Loveland trade marks now coexist after all.

However, that does not mean that these trade marks of Ms Schmidt will necessarily remain valid. After all, Loveland can always initiate invalidity actions and winning such actions seems rather likely to me.

Loveland is undoubtedly keeping an eye on Ms Schmidt. If at any point she wants to organise a festival using the “Loveland” name, a cease and desist letter will undoubtedly fall on her doormat in the foreseeable future.

So you see, also in entertainment land, a registered trade mark is worth its weight in gold!

Want to know more? Please contact Syb Terpstra