SW Legal Educational Publishing

Embargo Against Cuba Precludes Judgment on Dispute Over Trademark
Description A Cuban company claimed ownership of a trademark that is also claimed by an American firm. The American firm asserts that the Cuban government confiscated the trademark without compensation. Under the federal law controlling the embargo against Cuba, in such a dispute the Cuban firm has no legal standing to have the matter litigated.
Topic International Law
Key Words Embargo; Trade Regulation; False Advertising
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts A rum producer from Cuba, HCI, which exports to Europe, Canada, and Mexico, sued a rum seller from the U.S. for trademark infringement and false designation of origin. The Cuban firm asserted that it has superior rights to the name "Havana Club," so the use of that name by the American firm was trademark and trade name infringement and constituted false designation of origin by giving the impression that the rum was from Cuba. Trial court dismissed the suit; HCI appealed.
Decision Affirmed. "In 1963, the United States imposed an embargo on Cuba, reflected in the Cuban Assets Control Regulations." Because of the embargo, HCI's "Havana Club" rum has never been sold in the U.S. Under the General Interamerican Convention for Trade Mark and Commercial Protection, embargo regulations preclude recognition of a trademark from an agency of the Cuban government that confiscated the property from its original owner, Bacardi, which claims ownership of the trademark. Hence, the Cuban exporter lacked standing to sue under the Lanham Act.
Citation Havana Club Holding, S.A. v. Galleon, S.A., 203 F.3d 116 (2nd Cir., 2000)

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