Yakama Tribe Sues Tobacco Maker for Using Their Name
A lawsuit has been filed against an East Coast based tobacco company, after Yakama Indian Tribe officials learned that company was selling a "Yakama" brand of cigs.
The Jacobs Tobacco Company, which is based in New York and other eastern areas has been selling a limited brand labeled "Yakama" on the box, and they're selling them mainly on East Coast Indian Reservations.
Attorneys for the Yakama Nation have filed the suit, claiming, among other things, trademark infringement and other issues. One of the attorneys said "we're not mascots" when referring to the lawsuit. It's against the law to use the recognized name of a business, ethnic group, Native tribe, or other recognized entity for profit without their permission.
Years ago, the Lakota Tribe fought a lengthy lawsuit to get rid of the sale of what was a popular selling beer named Crazy Horse, after the famous Indian Chief. They were ultimately successful. That case helped Native Tribes and other groups have legal precedent when it comes to unlawful use of a name or brand for profit by somebody else.
Yakama officials are concerned that this was happening clear across the country, and have demanded the sale stop immediately and all boxes labeled "Yakama" cigs be destroyed. According to sources, no word from the Jacobs Company.
However, a check of their website does not show any brands being offered under the name of Yakama. It's possible they were pulled recently.