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Oktoberfest vs Oktoberfest: Leavenworth fights with Projekt Bayern over festival

Sept. 28, 2022 Updated Wed., Sept. 28, 2022 at 9:11 p.m.

Leavenworth, Washington gives visitors a taste of Germany.   (PHOTO BY KIRSTEN HARRINGTON)
Leavenworth, Washington gives visitors a taste of Germany.  (PHOTO BY KIRSTEN HARRINGTON)
By Pete O’Cain Wenatchee World

LEAVENWORTH – Stop me when this gets confusing.

Projekt Bayern, former organizer of the Leavenworth Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, is hosting the Leavenworth Oktoberfest this year at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee. The city of Leavenworth, which ended its contract with Projekt Bayern last year, is hosting Oktoberfest in Leavenworth … in Leavenworth.

Both Oktoberfests are hosted each weekend from Sept. 30 to Oct. 15 and offer the same ticket prices.

The two sides are suing each other in federal court.

Projekt Bayern operated Oktoberfest in Leavenworth from 1998 to 2020. More than 15,000 visitors travel to Leavenworth during the three-week festival, the city said in its lawsuit. The city terminated its contract with Projekt Bayern in 2021.

The city of Leavenworth sued Projekt Bayern on July 20 in U.S. District Court in Spokane asking the court to declare the trademark “Leavenworth Oktoberfest” is owned by the city and stop Projekt Bayern from using “Leavenworth Oktoberfest.”

Projekt Bayern countersued Aug. 12 and asked the court to dismiss the city’s claims and find that the trademark is owned by Projekt Bayern and permanently order the city stop using “Leavenworth Oktoberfest.” They added the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce as a third-party defendant on Wednesday.

The city on Aug. 26 requested the court issue an injunction to stop Projekt Bayern from using “Leavenworth Oktoberfest” to promote its event and to correct all publications describing its Wenatchee event at “Leavenworth Oktoberfest.” The city noted that Project Bayern’s “deceptive geographic terminology” has caused widespread public confusion.

The city in a motion for preliminary injunction claimed Projekt Bayern is causing “irreparable harm” with social media posts stating there will be no Oktoberfest this year in Leavenworth and that the city of Leavenworth has lied to consumers to boost hotel rates.

“This deceptive geographic terminology is causing widespread public confusion, and serious reputational harm to the city, its business owners, and its residents,” the motion said.

Judge Thomas O. Rice will hear oral arguments for an injunction on Tuesday – three days before the Oktoberfests begin.

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