A case being heard in federal court in Miami will decide the fate of the city’s world-renowned Ultra Music Festival across the Atlantic Ocean.
Just as tickets were placed on sale for the forthcoming 21st edition of the Miami-born festival on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno presided over litigation between Worldwide Entertainment Group and Adria MM Productions, battling for the right to use the Ultra name for similar electronic music festivals in Europe and Croatia.
Read Judge Moreno’s Order Denying the Parties’ Motions For Summary Judgement:
As reported by Miami New Times, Adria, an event promotion company based in Croatia, filed suit in May 2017 against Worldwide Entertainment Group after the latter allegedly made unreasonable demands of the company and accused Adria of being in breach of contract.
Worldwide is a sublicensor of the Ultra trademark tasked with licensing out the Miami festival’s brand to international production companies. It and Adria had a five-year agreement, beginning in November 2012, to throw Ultra-branded events in Croatia and Europe. However, before a new agreement could be drafted, Worldwide allegedly revoked Adria’s Ultra license in March 2017, after the Croatian company did not respond within the timeline set by Worldwide to resolve the alleged breach.
After their license was revoked, Adria claimed it discovered that Worldwide had never actually registered the Ultra brand for use in Croatia and Europe as discussed in their 2012 agreement. The company subsequently filed suit against Ultra in federal court in Miami.
Additionally, Worldwide has been accused by Adria of cutting off its access to social media channels, company emails and other means of communication used both internally and with consumers.
According to the New Times report, Worldwide responded by filing a countersuit accusing Adria of breaching their 2012 agreement by organizing non-Ultra electronic events, while still owing the parent company thousands in fees.
Following the filing of their respective lawsuits in Miami, both Worldwide and Adria filed to register for the use of the Ultra trademark in Europe, with Worldwide filing in the European Union and Adria in Croatia, the organization’s country of operation.
The case proceeded to trial on Monday following a Sept. 6 ruling by U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno denying simultaneous requests for summary judgement by both Worldwide and Adria. In his 31-page order, Moreno wrote that Worldwide failed to sufficiently demonstrate how Adria’s use of the Ultra brand abroad would affect the parent company’s ability to conduct commerce in the United States. Likewise, the judge held that further clarification was required concerning the facts and circumstances of the initial 2012 agreement between the two parties.
Worldwide’s counsel Peter Francis Valori of Miami law firm Damian & Valori did not reply to requests for comment by deadline.
Javier A. Lopez, partner at Miami firm Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton and counsel to Adria, told the Daily Business Review that because it’s undisputed that Ultra had not registered a trademark in Europe or Croatia, “the issue that seems to be litigated is whether or not the mark was well-known” and therefore offered broader protections under the law.
“We weren’t sure whether or not Croatia law would apply or if US law may apply; the issue is can you sell what you don’t own,” Lopez said. “We have affirmative claims and they have affirmative claims; it’s the old everybody breached everything argument. Obviously Worldwide is claiming that we breached part of the contract and they’re claiming we breached part of the contract … so a jury will decide who’s right and who’s wrong.”
Lopez added that “Judge Moreno’s done a great job of moving the case along pretty quickly,” and he foresees the case being wrapped up in short order.
“The jury should have the case in their hands by Friday … so we’ll probably get a decision on Friday.”