Saturday, August 3, 2013


Can we agree on this: the fairness and accuracy of the following analogy?

When it comes to the qualities of materials, craftsmanship and authenticity, the products sold under the brand name Navajo by the upscale-ish retailer Urban Outfitters compare with those made and sold by actual members of the Navajo tribe as Urban Outfitters itself compares to John’s Bargain Store.

I make this comparison because settlement talks between the tribe and the styled-rag sellers have collapsed and the Navajos' suit to stop Urban Outfitters from using the tribe’s name as a brand is going back before a judge.

The rest should be easy to figure.  Should be.

Urban Outfitters says, according to a “wire report” in my home newspaper, The Albuquerque Journal, that “’Navaho’ is a generic term for a style or design,” and that the tribe’s trademark claims should be nullified.

I will spare you the newfound New Mexico zealot’s reaction to the UO proposition that visual patterns and crafts techniques specific to the Navajo tribe can legally be appropriated and reproduced, or approximated and slapped together in some off-shore sweat shop, and then be sold with a “Navajo” label to any misguided consumer who is willing to find it Navajo-ish enough.
I will simply propose, if in the end, the Navajos and the fashion peddlers can’t find a licensing price, and the judge actually finds for UO, that someone buy up some Bargain Stores and reopen them as Urban Outfitters- (and to show you what an upright and honest merchant I would be) – Like.

Our motto: Do Be Fooled.


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