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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- The Navajo Nation has sued Urban Outfitters months after the tribe sent a cease and desist letter to the clothing retailer demanding it pull the "Navajo" name from its products.
The lawsuit filed late Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New Mexico alleges trademark violations and violations of the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which makes it illegal to sell arts or crafts in a way to falsely suggest they're made by American Indians when they're not.
The tribe has at least 10 registered trademarks on the Navajo name that cover clothing, footwear, online retail sales, household products and textiles. Tribal justice officials said they're intent on protecting what they believe are among the tribe's most valuable assets.
Urban Outfitters set off a firestorm of criticism last year with its line of Navajo-branded clothing and accessories — particularly underwear and a liquor flask, which the tribe said was "derogatory and scandalous," considering the sale and consumption of alcohol is banned on the reservation that spans parts of northeast Arizona, southeast Utah and northwest New Mexico. The company removed the products from its website after acknowledging receipt of the cease and desist letter.
The tribe licenses its name to other businesses in exchange for a share of their profits, and it has identified about two dozen companies it believes are violating the Navajo trademark.
The lawsuit seeks monetary compensation and an order permanently enjoining Urban Outfitters from using the name "Navajo" or variations of it on its products.