Navajo Tribe Drags Renowned Apparel Chain to Court
Urban Outfitters Inc., an apparel chain has been sued by native American tribe, Navajo for trademark infringement. The textile chain manufactured pullovers, feather earrings, underwears and so on under the brand name ‘Navajo’. The suit was filed in the U.S District Court last week. The tribe initially filed a cease and desist notice against Urban Outfitters asking them to stop manufacturing products under the tribe’s name. The suit alleged the apparel chain of violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act. The law suit further accuses the defendants’ act of using the tribes name to market liquor as outrageous as this is against the tribal laws.
According to Erny Zah, director of communications for the nation’s Office of the President, by using the tribes name on their products, the defendants have caused irreparable loss to the Navajo Nation. Majority of the tribal population are native artisans and they take pride in associating their products to the name of the tribe. To quote from the suit, “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”.
The tribe has 86 registered trademarks associated with clothing and jewellery. Navajo Nation has stated that the defendant’s core area of the business being similar to theirs, the use of the name “Navajo” will definitely mislead the people and cause confusion. Further, Urban Outfitters have also advertised their products bearing the tribes name on the internet. Besides calling upon the apparel chain to cease and desist from using their name, Navajo Nation has also sought monetary damages.
Author: Aruna Mukundd