The Navajo Nation is recognized as the largest tribe in the United States. Yet when faced with Urban Outfitters (UO), the "hipster fashion giant," it just isn't quite famous enough.
The Navajo Nation lost two counts in a multi-million dollar lawsuit against UO after the court ruled that the term "Navajo" is a generic term for a style or design. In order to move forward with the suit, the tribe had to prove that Navajo is “widely recognized by the general consuming public of the United States.”
According to New Mexico's District Judge Bruce Black, few courts have been able to prove this point.
The tribe filed their lawsuit against UO in 2011 and issued a demand all profits generated from "Navajo" clothing and accessories or US$1,000 per item. UO pulled the Navajo name from its stores after receiving a cease and desist letter. However, the hipster giant did not remove the term from its other subsidiaries or catalogues.
There are at least six (6) other counts pending against Urban Outfitters and its subsidiaries (Anthropologie and Free People). These counts include trademark infringement, unfair competition, and false advertising, among others.
The tribe has cited several acts including the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which prohibits the selling of products that "appear to be made" by a member of the tribe. Infringement on this Act could result in Urban Outfitters being slapped with civil penalties or millions of dollars in fines.
Urban Outfitters attempted to file a defense against the tribe, claiming the Navajo Nation waited too long to file their lawsuit since UO's line came out in 2001. The retailer lost their defense claim.
According to the Fashion Law, the Navajo Nation has ten registered trademarks on various pieces.
What say you, PopStars? Is Urban Outfitters getting a little too high and mighty?