November 22, 2016
Philadelphia-based apparel retailer Urban Outfitters has reached a settlement with the Navajo Nation tribe in a trademark lawsuit over the use of its name and designs on the company's products.
The 2012 lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New Mexico, took exception to Urban Outfitters' use of "Navajo" and "Navaho" brands on more than 20 product lines, including earrings, pullovers and underwear.
Last Friday, according to Reuters, the sovereign Native American tribe reached a "supply and license agreement" that formalizes the use of appropriated branding and opens the door to a collaboration on authentic Native American jewelry.
"We believe in protecting our Nation, our artisans, designs, prayers and way of life," Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said in a statement. "We expect that any company considering the use of the Navajo name, or our designs or motifs, will ask us for our permission."
In a separate statement to Refinery 29, Urban Outfitters general counsel Azeez Hayne said the company looks forward to working with Navajo Nation in the future.
“We take the rights of artists and designers seriously, both in protecting our own and in respecting the rights of others," Hayne said. "As a company, URBN 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."
The Navajo Nation territory covers roughly 27,425 square miles in northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah and northwestern New Mexico. With an enrollment of about 300,000 members, the tribe controls the largest American Indian territory in the United States.