Urban Outfitters Sued for Trademark Infringement by Navajo Nation

By Joseph Mandour on March 12, 2012

indians-thumb-200x150-37600 California – The Navajo Nation has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of New Mexico against Urban Outfitters, accusing the popular clothing company of infringing on its Navajo trademarks. Last fall after receiving a cease and desist letter from Navajo Nation, Urban Outfitters removed its use of “Navajo” and “Navaho” from its website.

However, Navajo Nation alleges in its complaint that Urban Outfitters continued to sell over 20 products in its subsidiary clothing stores such as Anthropologie and Free People, who have also been named in the lawsuit.

Navajo Nation claims in the lawsuit that it has had use in commerce under the Navajo trademark since 1943 and has been known as the Navajo tribe since as far back as 1849. Navajo Nation currently owns at least 86 registered trademarks, 10 of which are Navajo related trademarks and include goods such as clothing, blankets, footwear, and jewelry. The Navajo Nation has claimed that Urban Outfitters is using the Navajo trademark for clothing, jewelry, and accessories. However, one product of Urban Outfitters in particular has been said to be “derogatory and scandalous” and that is the “Navajo Flask”. This product has been most disturbing to the Navajo Nation because it does not affiliate itself to any products related to alcohol and in fact bans the sale and consumption of alcohol on its reservation which includes land in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.

In the lawsuit filed February 28, 2012, the Navajo Nation states, “In this action, the Navajo Nation seeks to protect its famous and distinct Navajo name and trademark, and to ensure that consumers are no longer deceived, confused, or misled in their pursuits to find and acquire authentic and genuine Navajo products.” Navajo Nation is also suing Urban Outfitters for violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which is a federal law making it illegal to sell arts and crafts by misleading consumers into believing they are authentic and made by a Native American tribe or person.

The Navajo Nation is seeking that Urban Outfitters completely stop using and selling products related to the Navajo trademarks as well as monetary damages. Urban Outfitters had no comment at this time.

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