Navajo Nation takes Urban Outfitters to court

February 29, 2012

The Navajo Nation has sued Urban Outfitters months after the tribe sent a cease and desist letter to the clothing retailer demanding it pull the "Navajo" name from its products. The lawsuit was filed late yesterday in Federal court. KJZZ’s Al Macias reports.

The suit accuses the clothing chain of violating the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act. That law makes it illegal to sell merchandise in a way to falsely suggest it's made by American Indians when it's not.

Urban Outfitters was criticized last year with its line of Navajo-branded clothing and accessories — particularly underwear and a liquor flask. The tribe said the flask was "derogatory and scandalous.” The company removed the products from its website after receiving the tribe’s notice.

The Navajo Nation wrote in its lawsuit that products with the "Navajo" name still are sold through other company brands in catalogs and retail stores.

In an email last October the company said it had no plans to alter its products.

The tribe licenses its name to other businesses in exchange for a share of their profits, and it has identified about two dozen companies it believes are violating the Navajo trademark.

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