The Navajo Nation has settled a trademark suit brought against Philadelphia-based retail chain Urban Outfitters over its use of the tribe's legally-protected name, the two sides confirmed on Friday. The largest Native American tribe in the U.S., the Navajo filed suit in the U.S. District Court in New Mexico in 2012, seeking millions of dollars from Urban Outfitters in connection with goods that included everything from necklaces, jackets and pants to a flask and underwear bearing the tribe's name.
The tribe alleged that such usage was in violation of federal and state trademark laws, as well as the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, a federal law that makes it illegal to sell arts or crafts in a way to falsely suggest they are made by American Indians. Urban Outfitters fought such claims arguing that "Navajo" is a generic term for a style or design, thereby, making its use of the term legally permissible.
Well as of this week, the parties entered into a largely confidential settlement agreement and as such, the Navajo Nation filed to voluntarily dismiss its case against the hipster-friendly retailer. One element of the settlement that has been discussed publicly by the Navajo Nation: A "supply and license agreement" and plan to collaborate on authentic American Indian jewelry in future years, which was signed by both parties.
According to a statement from Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye: "We believe in protecting our Nation, our artisans, designs, prayers and way of life. We expect that any company considering the use of the Navajo name, or our designs or motifs, will ask us for our permission."
Azeez Hayne, Urban Outfitters’ general counsel, said the company is pleased with the agreement, noting: "Urban Outfitters has long been inspired by the style of Navajo and other American Indian artists and looks forward to the opportunity to work with them on future collaborations," Hayne said.