June 20th, 2012
The Navajo Nation has sued the clothing retailer Urban Outfitters for trademark infringement. Months before, the Nation sent a cease-and-desist letter to Urban Outfitters demanding it stop using the “Navajo” name. The suit filed last Tuesday in federal court in New Mexico alleges trademark violations and violations of the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act. This Act makes it illegal to sell arts or crafts in a way that falsely suggests they were made by American Indians. Susan Scafidi, who directs the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University’s law school in New York, claims the trademark infringement is clear.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages and an injunction to prevent Urban Outfitters from using the Navajo name (or variations such as “Navaho”) on its products.