Urban Outfitters squaring off against Navajo Nation in court

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- The Navajo Nation is seeking potentially millions of dollars from Urban Outfitters Inc. over clothing, jewelry and other merchandise bearing the tribe's name that the popular retailer has sold.

See Full Article

The clothing chain will ask a federal judge in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Wednesday to limit how far back in time the tribe can go to seek money over the company's products, which included everything from necklaces, jackets and pants to a flask and underwear with the "Navajo" name.

The tribe's lawsuit alleging trademark violations has been working its way through the courts for more than three years. Efforts to settle the case featuring two unlikely foes have failed as the tribe seeks vast sums of money from the company that also owns the Anthropologie and Free People brands.

Here are things to know about the case:

------

WHAT IS THE TRIBE SEEKING?

The Navajo Nation wants revenue from products sold by Urban Outfitters and its subsidiaries under the "Navajo" name dating back to 2008. The actual amount isn't quantified in court documents, but it could amount to millions of dollars.

On some claims, the tribe wants all the profits generated from the Navajo-themed sales. On others, it wants $1,000 per day per item, or three times the profit generated by marketing and retail of products using the name.

Urban Outfitters says the tribe deserves nothing from 2008 to when the lawsuit was filed, saying the statute of limitations expired and tribal officials "slept on their alleged rights."

------

WHAT IS THE BASIS OF THE LAWSUIT?

The tribe's 2012 lawsuit alleges violations of federal and state trademark laws, including the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which makes it illegal to sell arts or crafts in a way to falsely suggest they're made by American Indians.

Urban Outfitters says "Navajo" is a generic term for a style or design. The company wants a judge to determine it hasn't infringed upon the tribe's rights and to cancel the tribe's federal trademark registrations.

------

WHAT IS THE MERCHANDISE IN QUESTION?

The geometric prints popular in clothing often are inspired by Native American designs. Urban Outfitters said it started using the "Navajo" or "Navaho" name on its products and in marketing as early as July 2001, when the fashion trend was in full swing.

Its subsidiaries followed suit, with the companies selling cuffs, necklaces, jackets, pants, a flask and panties, among other merchandise. The companies said they quit selling the products after hearing of the tribe's lawsuit.

The Navajo Nation holds trademarks on the "Navajo" name for things like clothing, footwear and online retail sales.

------

NAVAJO POLICING OF TRADEMARKS

The lawsuit against Urban Outfitters is the first such action taken by the tribe in federal court to assert its trademarks. Former Navajo Nation Attorney General Harrison Tsosie has said the tribe twice protested the unauthorized use of "Navajo" before it sued and sent at least four dozen protest letters afterward.

The tribe relies on its members and an agreement with a Texas-based company that licenses the "Navajo" name to monitor use of the term and alert the tribal government to possible trademark infringement.

------

WHAT IS THE NAVAJO NATION?

The Navajo Nation refers both to the tribal government and to the 27,000 square miles that make up the tribe's reservation in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico -- the country's largest. About 180,000 of the 300,000 Navajo tribal members live on the reservation. The tribe's population is second only to the Cherokee Nation.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Credit agency pushes feds to give it access to list of social insurance numbers

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA -- An international credit reporting agency is pushing the federal government to give it access to a monthly list of new social insurance numbers despite years of rejections over privacy concerns. TransUnion made the request anew earlier this year, shortly after Patty Hajdu became labour minister, to access the list that contains the range of social insurance numbers issued each month in various regions of the country. Source
  • Canadians set record with U.S. real estate shopping spree

    Economic CBC News
    New Brunswick's Joel Levesque had no idea he was helping set a record when he bought a home in Fort Myers, Fla., back in April. The 63-year-old semi-retired public affairs professional wanted a place to escape for the winter and didn't feel like waiting around for the loonie to gain ground on the greenback. Source
  • Debt got you down? Start a debt-destruction club

    Economic CBC News
    If you run, hide, or plug your ears every time the topic of money comes up, you're not alone. But as the era of ultra-low interest rates comes to an end, you need to force yourself to face your finances. Source
  • Ontario transit agency won't let Bombardier bid to operate commuter trains

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Ontario's transit agency has decided not to appeal a court ruling favouring Bombardier but will exclude the Montreal-based company from bidding to continue operating GO Transit trains as it has done for decades. Source
  • Business groups blast Ontario labour proposals on last day of consultations

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Unions and advocacy groups made one last effort Friday to sway the Ontario government on its plan for sweeping changes to the province's labour laws, with some sounding the alarm about what they deem drastic measures and others arguing the proposal doesn't go far enough. Source
  • Marijuana companies band together to develop marketing guidelines

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Sixteen of Canada's licensed marijuana producers have enlisted the help of Advertising Standards Canada to develop guidelines on how the drug should be branded and promoted before its recreational use becomes legal next year. Source
  • Husky Energy set to repair pipeline that spilled crude into river a year ago

    Economic CTV News
    CALGARY -- Husky Energy (TSX:HSE) says it has been granted permission to repair and replace a section of pipeline that leaked 225,000 litres of crude in Saskatchewan just over a year ago. Chief executive Robert Peabody said that it will be applying lessons learned from the spill on the rebuild. Source
  • Ford says it will fight latest Takata recall

    Economic CTV News
    DETROIT -- Ford is fighting the latest expansion of the Takata air bag inflator recall. Earlier this month Takata filed documents with the U.S. government adding 2.7 million vehicles to the recall from Ford, Nissan and Mazda. Source
  • FedEx to close all Office Print and Ship Centres across Canada

    Economic CTV News
    FedEx Canada has announced that it will be closing all of its FedEx Office Print and Ship Centres, across Canada. All 24 centres, the manufacturing plant, and the head office in Toronto will close. Source
  • Car buying pushes retail sales up for third month in a row in May

    Economic CBC News
    Strong auto sector activity helped Canadian retail sales activity rise for a third straight month in May, climbing by 0.6 per cent to $48.9 billion, Statistics Canada said Friday. The monthly increase was double the consensus expectation of economists Source