The Navajo Nation, who say their own clothing brands are among their most valuable assets, claim Urban Outfitters is infringing on trademarks and violating a 1990 federal statute that bans the sale of arts and crafts with the false claim that they were made by Native Americans, according to the AP.
"The fame or reputation of the Navajo name and marks is such that, when defendant uses the 'Navajo' and 'Navaho' marks with its goods and services, a connection with the Navajo Nation is falsely presumed," the complaint filed in US district court in New Mexico said, according to the AP.
Urban Outfitters was criticized last year after marketing a line of garments and baubles, including underwear and a liquor flask, with the Navajo name. The tribe said such items were “derogatory and scandalous,” according to the AP, as the Navajo Nation bans the sale of alcohol on its territory, which spans parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.
The company no longer markets the items on its website but Navajo Nation lawyers claim some such products are still for sale under subsidiary brands, such as Free People, or in catalogs and stores, the AP said.
The company, which is based in Philadelphia, did not immediately answer requests for comment, the AP said. The lawsuit is seeking damages plus an injunction forever preventing Urban Outfitters from using the name "Navajo" or variants.
In 2007, The New York Times reported that Urban Outfitters had decided to pull a line of kaffieyhs — which it had labeled “anti-war woven scarves” — from its stores after a blogger posted pictures of Arab militants wearing them.