- Vivian Hendriksz |
London - Teen retailer Urban Outfitters is no stranger to controversy, but its misuse of the name 'Navajo' may end up costing the apparel millions of dollars.
The Navajo Nation, a tribe of Native Americans in Southwestern US, is seeking millions of dollars from Urban Outfitters for using its name to sell clothing and jewellery, amongst other products. The tribe launched a lawsuit against Urban Outfitters in 2012, demanding revenues from the products the retailer and its subsidiaries sold over the years under the name "Navajo", dating back to 2008.
The lawsuit accuses Urban Outfitters of violating federal and state trademark laws, including the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which makes it illegal to sell items which may falsely imply they are made by Native Americans. Although the exact amount demanded by the Navajo Nation is not quantified in court documents, it is likely to amount to millions of dollars.
However, Urban Outfitters argues that the tribe deserve nothing from 2008 to 2012, when the lawsuit was filed, as the company has been affected by the Native American tribe delay filing the suit. The clothing retailer has requested that a federal judge in Santa Fe, New Mexico, applies a limit to how far back the tribe can seek remuneration over their products, as the company has been using the term Navajo to describe its products as early as 2001. The judge has yet to respond to Urban Outfitters request.