This "Navajo" flask was among hundreds of "Navajo" labeled items sold by Urban Outfitters. Image: The Fashion Law
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Navajo Nation settles dispute over sale of unauthorized 'Navajo' products





The Navajo Nation has reached a settlement with a major fashion retailer that sold "Navajo" products without the tribe's authorization.

The terms of the settlement are confidential. But President Russell Begaye said Urban Outfitters Inc., a publicly-traded company (URBN), has agreed to recognize the validity of the tribe's trademarks.

"We expect that any company considering the use of the Navajo name, or our designs or motifs, will ask us for our permission," Begaye said in a press release on Thursday.

At one point the tribe filed documents that exposed the company to million of dollars in damages for selling "Navajo" items on the internet and at stores like Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie. The products were marketed and sold as far back as 2008 but they were not produced by the tribe or its members.

As part of the settlement, the tribe will enter into a license and supply agreement with the company. And the two parties will work together to develop an "authentic" line of jewelry.

"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,” said Azeez Hayne, the firm's general counsel.

The tribe sued URBN in February 2012 after attempts to resolve the dispute were unsuccessful. The lawsuit alleged trademarks infringements and violations of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, a federal law that requires goods that are marketed as Indian to be produced by a tribe or an Indian artisan.

The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice on Monday, meaning the tribe can't return to court to pursue those same claims. A filing on Wednesday indicates that disputes over five trademarks have been resolved by the settlement.

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