While US and Cuba are becoming more friendly, a new battle is starting: trademark disputes of tobacco products

When the president first announced that Cuba and the US would start talking to each other and the embargo against the island may be lifted, I was shocked. I really did not see that coming. I did not think the US Government would talk to Cuba so long as the Castro brothers were still ruling the island, and either did many members of the Senate and those who were exiled or fled the island. I still believe this has nothing to do with Cuba. I think this is just part of the larger war between Russia and the US. Russia has lost so many allies these past ten years. Libya, Ukraine, and the ones in work: Iran and Syria. Will Cuba slowly lean toward the US and away from Russia over the next decade. I think it will as the power and economic strength will be felt all over Cuba since we are only located 90 miles away. Hell, we even have a military base on their island. Okay, no more talk about diplomacy and politics.

Since these warming relations were announced a few month ago, it seems like the battle between the two countries is over. But a new battle is just starting, and this one will be fought in court. The fight over cigar and other tobacco products and the trademarks that go with them. Cuba claims they own certain trademarks, while others claim they own it.
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From Reuters:

Cuba’s legal push hotted up when Spanish tobacco giant Altadis, now a subsidiary of Britain’s giant Imperial Tobacco, purchased a 50 percent stake in Cuba’s state-owned cigar company Habanos S.A. in 2000, according to Montagne’s attorney, Frank Herrera.

In 2012 it successfully blocked Kansas City-based Xikar Inc from registering the name Havana Collection for a line of $300 cigar cutters made in France and decorated with pieces of Cuban cigar bands and box art.

“Habanos claimed we were causing confusion about the origin of the product,” Xikar Chief Executive Kurt Van Keppel told Reuters. “Nobody was confused whether this was made in Cuba. We advertised them as made in Paris.”

Xikar isn’t the only case. The Cohiba, Cuba’s most famous brand created by Fidel Castro in 1962, has been at the heart of a 16-year-long battle between the Cuban government and rival Swedish Match that holds the trademark for a Dominican-made Cohiba sold in the United States.

In February the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Cuba’s cigar monopoly when it declined to hear an appeal of a lower court decision favoring the island’s exclusive claim to the Cohiba brand.

A lot of US companies, and a lot of Cuban companies are registering trademarks so that in the future when Congress removes sanctions and other embargoes, they can enforce their trademark and protect their brand. It will interesting to see how this fights out since many of the trademarks were registered in the US before the President said he would seek warmer ties with Cuba.

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