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

  • Barrick, Goldcorp joining forces to work on projects in Chile

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - Two of Canada's biggest gold companies are creating a new joint venture to advance several mining projects clustered in northern Chile. The joint venture will be owned equally by Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp. Source
  • What makes a cyberattack? Experts lobby to restrict the term

    Economic CTV News
    LONDON -- When U.S. senator John McCain told Ukrainian television that the allegedly Russian-backed breach of the Democratic National Committee's server was "an act of war," Michael Schmitt cringed. Schmitt, a professor of law at the U.S. Source
  • CEO of International Air Transport Association criticizes electronics device ban

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- The head of the International Air Transport Association says it's difficult to understand how banning electronic devices in carry-on baggage on flights will improve security. In a prepared text of a speech Tuesday, IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac called on governments to work with the transport industry to ensure passengers aren't separated from their laptops, tablets and other devices. Source
  • Former Valeant CEO suing company over unpaid shares

    Economic CBC News
    Former Valeant Pharmaceuticals CEO Michael Pearson is suing his former employer for breach of contract for failing to deliver more than three million shares and consulting fees. In a lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S., Pearson alleges that Valeant breached his separation agreement by refusing to hand over 580,676 restricted share units and about 2.4 million performance share awards he was granted. Source
  • Cruise line stops port calls at Mexican resort of Acapulco

    Economic CTV News
    MEXICO CITY - The U.S. cruise ship line Holland America says it has halted port calls at Mexico's troubled resort city of Acapulco and will sail to other destinations in the country "due to recent security concerns. Source
  • Home Capital shares dive after company terminates CEO

    Economic CBC News
    Shares of Home Capital Group Inc. traded down more than seven per cent on the TSX on Tuesday, a day after the company said it had terminated its top executive. Home Capital announced Monday after stock markets had closed that that Martin Reid, its president and CEO, was out, effective immediately. Source
  • Elon Musk's latest venture: Brain-computer interfaces

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Tech billionaire Elon Musk is announcing a new venture called Neuralink focused on linking brains to computers. The company plans to develop brain implants that can treat neural disorders and may one day be powerful enough to put humanity on a more even footing with future superintelligent computers, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing unnamed sources. Source
  • Former Valeant CEO Michael Pearson sues for breach of contract

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Former Valeant Pharmaceuticals CEO Michael Pearson is suing his former employer for breach of contract for failing to deliver more than three million shares and consulting fees. In a lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. Source
  • Ford investing $1.2B in 3 Michigan plants, adding 130 jobs

    Economic CTV News
    DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is investing US$1.2 billion in three Michigan facilities, including an engine plant where it plans to add 130 jobs. U.S. President Donald Trump applauded the move in an early morning tweet. Source
  • Purolator stops accepting new shipments as strike deadline nears

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - Purolator stopped accepting shipments today ahead of a strike deadline this afternoon issued by the union representing some of the courier's employees. Teamsters Canada issued the 72-hour strike notice Sunday after its members voted to reject Purolator's final offer. Source