Navajo Nation sues Urban Outfitters over use of name
March 1, 2012By Elizabeth Fiedler
A Philadelphia-based retailer faces a legal challenge for allegedly deceiving shoppers. The Navajo Nation has filed the federal suit against Urban Outfitters, that trendy vendor of all things hip.
Brian Lewis, an attorney with the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, says the group wants Urban Outfitters to stop misappropriating the "Navajo" name and trademark.
"Although Urban Outfitters had said previously that it had stopped using 'Navajo' in connection with the sale of its products, it merely transitioned its misappropriation of the Navajo name and trademark to lesser-known websites and print advertisement -- those of its subsidiaries," Lewis said.
Lewis, who said the Navajo Nation tried to settle the dispute out of court, charged that the company is breaking the law to boost sales.
"As a sophisticated multinational conglomerate that generates more than $1 billion in venue annually, Urban Outfitters knew, or should have known, that its conduct is unlawful," Lewis said.
Lewis said Urban Outfitters is deceiving customers who want to buy authentic Native American products.
"Maybe it enhances their sales by a few tens of millions of dollars? That's not that important to a company that does $1.83 billion dollars in a single year," Lewis said. "But to ... a tribe like the Navajo Nation, with extreme poverty and ... 50 to 60 percent unemployment, a couple of tens of millions of dollars, just a couple of millions of dollars, that makes a big difference."
Urban Outfitters did not return repeated requests for comment.