Urban Outfitters Line May Be Illegal, Or Just Trendy

Author: Brent Randall

Urban Outfitters' attempts to be trendy and edgy may have backfired. The clothing store has released a brand of “Navajo” clothing and accessories which the actual Navajo Nation is not too happy about for a couple reasons.

For starters, the Navajo government has at least 10 trademarks over the use of the word “Navajo”, particularly in connection to clothing, footwear and online retail. The Navajo Nation’s lawyers sent Urban Outfitters cease-and-desist letters this summer asking them to remove the name from their stuff. But Urban Outfitters never responded, and the stuff is still in their stores.

In addition to the trademark claims, legal commentators, like those here on Reuters, say that Urban Outfitters should be prevented from selling the goods due to a law barring the use of a name of a tribe in connection with something that is not actually made by that tribe.

Another reason why the Navajo Nation is upset, which runs a bit deeper, is that the stuff their tribe’s name is connected to includes underwear, which goes against the tribe’s spiritual beliefs, and flasks, which has been seen as insensitive due to the prevalence of alcohol abuse among Native Americans.

For its part, Urban Outfitters has claimed that it is just taking advantage of the “Native American-inspired trend.” Other products offered in the line include feather necklaces, t-shirts and scarves. The items in the line have designs that are often associated with Navajo crafts.

It seems that Urban Outfitters’ line is in poor taste from both legal and moral standpoints. It sounds like the Navajo Nation has the trademarks properly registered to oppose the use by Urban Outfitters. Either the store made a poor business decision, their lawyer didn’t do enough research, or nobody really thought about the implications of the line. But perhaps worse is the apparent offence the store has made against the Navajo culture. When patterns are associated with entire groups of people, clothing companies should be sensitive when using them. Plus, who would want their name associated with hipster flasks and panties anyway?

Source: http://www.cinemablend.com/pop/Urban-Outfitters-Line-May-Illegal-Or-Just-Trendy-36138.html