FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Navajo Nation has sued Urban Outfitters Inc. months afterwards the association beatific a cease and abandon letter to the accouterment banker ambitious it cull the “Navajo” name from its products.
The accusation filed backward Tuesday in U.S. District Cloister in New Mexico alleges brand violations and violations of the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which makes it actionable to advertise arts or crafts in a way to falsely advance they’re fabricated by American Indians aback they’re not.
The association has about 10 registered trademarks on the Navajo name that awning clothing, footwear, online retail sales, domiciliary articles and textiles. Affiliated amends admiral said they’re absorbed on attention what they accept are amid the tribe’s best admired assets.
“The acclaim or acceptability of the Navajo name and marks is such that, aback actor uses the ‘Navajo’ and ‘Navaho’ marks with its appurtenances and services, a affiliation with the Navajo Nation is falsely presumed,” the accusation states.
Urban Outfitters set off a firestorm of criticism aftermost year with its band of Navajo-branded accouterment and accessories — decidedly underwear and a liquor flask, which the association said was “derogatory and scandalous,” because the auction and burning of booze is banned on the catch that spans genitalia of northeast Arizona, southeast Utah and northwest New Mexico. The aggregation removed the artefact names from its website afterwards acknowledging abandoning of the cease and abandon letter.
But the Navajo Nation wrote in its accusation that articles with the Navajo name still are awash through added aggregation brands, like Free People, in catalogs and retail stores.
The accouterment boutique’s website appearance several pieces of adornment labeled best Navajo with azure stones and silver. A description for a handmade belt says it originally was awash at a trading post, and has categorical arrow account with a “sterling” brand on the back.
There was no assurance of the chat “Navajo” on any articles at an Urban Outfitters in city Tempe backward aftermost week.
The Philadelphia-based aggregation did not acknowledge to belletrist gluttonous animadversion Wednesday.
Company agent Ed Looram said in an email aftermost October that Urban Outfitters had no affairs to adapt its products.
“Like abounding added appearance brands, we adapt trends and will abide to do so for years to come,” he said. “The Native American-inspired trend and accurately the appellation ‘Navajo’ accept been cycling thru fashion, accomplished art and architecture for the aftermost few years.”
He after beneath added comment, adage the amount was in the easily of acknowledged counsel.
Susan Scafidi, who directs the Appearance Law Institute at Fordham University’s law academy in New York, said Urban Outfitters could point out the name changes in assertive items in acknowledgment to the tribe’s aboriginal objections. The “Navajo Hipster Panty” and the “Navajo Print Fabric Wrapped Flask,” for example, after appeared on the company’s website as “printed” instead of “Navajo.”
Other defenses accommodate claiming no likelihood of customer abashing amid an accustomed Navajo accouterment account and the panty, application alternating spellings of “Navajo” and arguing that the contested artefact isn’t a handicraft, she said.
But she and New York-based appearance advocate Joseph F. Murphy Jr., accede the brand contravention is clear. Both acicular to a history in which the Navajo Nation absent absolute acreage and now is angry to assure bookish property.
“That’s what disgusts me about this situation,” Murphy said. “I, like abounding people, anticipation it would accept been resolved. But allegedly Urban Outfitters beneath to address the big acknowledgment and may accept to address the big check.”
The Navajo Nation’s objections to commonly styled beaded earrings or a hacienda bag that don’t backpack the tribe’s name are abundant beneath adequate to succeed, Scafidi said. But she said it shows a arrangement that could access a jury, which the association has requested in its lawsuit.
“Imagine all of those articles accumulated on a table in the courtroom, attractive like Santa Fe meets New York’s belled Canal Street or Beijing’s Silk Market,” she wrote in an email.
Tuesday’s activity isn’t the aboriginal time the Navajo Nation has asserted its trademarks, admitting it had never taken activity in federal court, said affiliated Department of Amends advocate Brian Lewis. The association auspiciously affected the abandoning of a “Navaho” brand aftermost year that was acclimated by a French aggregation accomplishing business in the United States. The association argued the name was phonetically identical and abandoned on its trademark.
The association licenses its name to added businesses in barter for a allotment of their profits, and it has articular about two dozen companies it believes are actionable the Navajo trademark. Lewis said belletrist and buzz calls about argue others to stop anarchic on the tribe’s rights.
He said the boundless use of the chat “Navajo” on articles does not accomplish it an adequate practice, nor does it go unnoticed. But he said the tribe’s assets are bound and the Navajo Nation charge accent the accomplishments it takes.
“In this case, the akin and amount of arrant behavior and abuse to the Navajo Nation factored heavily into the Navajo Nation’s accommodation to act,” he wrote in an email to The Associated Press.
The accusation seeks budgetary advantage and an adjustment assuredly enjoining Urban Outfitters from application the name “Navajo” or variations of it on its products.
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