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Trademark Law

Navajo Nation Files Trademark Suit Claiming Urban Outfitters Uses Its Name and Tribal-Type Symbols

Posted Mar 2, 2012 11:54 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The Navajo Nation claims in a federal lawsuit that Urban Outfitters is infringing its trademark by using its name and tribal-type patterns on merchandise.

The suit filed Tuesday in federal court in New Mexico claims the retailer is using the name “Navajo” and “Navaho” on goods that compete with the tribe’s trademarked jewelry, housewares and clothing, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Among the Urban Outfitters items targeted in the suit are a “Navajo Nations Crew Pullover,” a “Navajo Hipster Panty” and a “Navajo Print Fabric Wrapped Flask.”

The suit also says the merchandise had symbols and marks that "evoke the Navajo Indian Tribe's tribal patterns, including geometric prints and designs fashioned to mimic and resemble Navajo Indian and tribal patterns, prints and designs." The tribe claims trademark infringement and violation of the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act, the Associated Press reports. The law bans the sale of items based on false suggestions they are made by American Indians.

The suit says the company removed the word “Navajo” from product names on its website after receiving a cease-and-desist letter, but it continues to use the word on goods sold in stores.

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