Navajo Nation Fights for Its Name

The Navajo Nation recently sued apparel retailers Urban Outfitters, Free People and Anthropologie (both subsidiaries of Urban Outfitters) for alleged trademark violations and violation of the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act for selling goods under the "Navajo" name.

Aside from selling some questionable and potentially offensive items like the infamous "Navajo Flask" and the Navajo Hipster Panty, Urban Outfitters is specifically accused of selling various items that violate ten of the Navajo Nation's trademarks.

The trademarks guarantee that the Navajo Nation has the exclusive right to sell goods under the "Navajo" name for things such as clothing and footwear. You can view the Nation's lawsuit complaint HERE.

In addition to trademark violations, Urban Outfitters is accused of violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act which makes it "...unlawful to offer or display for sale or sell any good, with or without a Government trademark, in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization, resident within the United States."

The local Seattle outdoor retailer Filson takes a different path from Urban Outfitters that both avoids litigation and supports native tribes at the same time. Filson partners with the Salish tribe in British Columbia to produce hand knit clothing that utilizes authentic native designs and craftsmanship.

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