A 2012 lawsuit from the Navajo Nation, against Urban Outfitters, drags on. Uncomfortable with the retailer's now cancelled "Navajo" line of clothing, the suit was brought to defend The Navajo Nation's Federal trademark. Urban Outfitters, naturally, feels the term "Navajo" is generic and descriptive of a style, they're asking the trademark registration be removed.
Who doesn't want a hipster panty named after them?
Millions of dollars are potentially at stake in the suit. The tribe is seeking revenue from products using the "Navajo" name starting from 2008. Urban Outfitters, however, counters that the term "Navajo" is a generic term for a style or design, and that the tribe took too long to file suit. The company wants a judge to not only determine that it hasn't infringed upon the tribe's rights but to also cancel the tribe's federal trademark registrations.
Diné [Navajo] tribal member Casey John disagrees with the argument that "Navajo" is a generic term. "Using Navajo to describe something is further colonizing the word. Using it to refer to a type of pattern … it's not really a pattern," she says. "To say it's just a design, they don't need permission from a tribe that federally, legally calls themselves Navajo … it's just ridiculous. It's legally the name we use in any kind of actions with other nations, the government. It [the name] should not be taken lightly at all."
The retail company is no stranger to racially charged controversies. In 2005, it faced backlash for selling a T-shirt with the phrase "New Mexico: Cleaner than regular Mexico," and again in 2010 for describing a T-shirt color as "Obama/Black."