Last weekend, July 14 and July 15, 2023, TC Summer Fest put on an event, touted as the “biggest rock weekend of the year” with a “two-day festival-style music event” which included The Killers, The Flaming Lips, Death Cab For Cutie, and Imagine Dragons. This was the TC Summer Fest’s first year; Milwaukee’s Summerfest has been a summer staple in Wisconsin for 55 years. Summerfest is a multi-weekend music festival in June and July held at the Henry Maier Festival park.

On Thursday, July 13, 2023, the organizers of Summerfest, Milwaukee World Festival, Inc., (“MWF”), filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin against the Minnesota Twins, with accusations which included the new festival’s name has created confusion.

The complaint notes MWF owns multiple federal trademark registrations for Summerfest, which have been used exclusively and continuously throughout the Midwest since at least as early as 1972. Last summer, the 2022 Summerfest had approximately $66 million in gross revenue. This year, Imagine Dragons performed as the closing headliner for Summerfest, on July 8, 2023.

The complaint goes on to state in 2019, the multi-day music festival Twin Cities Summer Jam was created. After the end of the 2022 Twin Cities Summer Jam, the Twins “decided to host its first ‘TC Summer Fest’ at Target Field to be held in July 2023.” The old Twin Cities Summer Jam website redirected visitors to Meka Morris, the Twins Executive Vice President and Chief Business Officer was quoted in the Star Tribune on May 1, 2023 stating, “[t]he name Summer Fest in an homage to the legacy of the Summer Jam, and a nod to the festival-style nature of the event. Summerfest in Milwaukee is certainly an iconic Midwest music event, as we hope the TC Summer Fest will also become.”

The complaint alleges TC Summer Fest is substantially similar to Summerfest, causing actual confusion, which was allegedly demonstrated via multiple instances, including in the public commentary of a TC Summer Fest Facebook advertisement. The TC Summer Fest was held as planned on July 14 and 15, 2023 at Target Field. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for this case and the festival.