Cuban brands and their non Cuban counterparts
Almost every Cuban cigar has a Non Cuban counterpart, usually only available in the United States due to trademark legislation. For the longest time after the Cuban embargo, Cuban companies could not trademark their brands in the United States so others took the opportunity. Nowadays Cuban companies can trademark their brands in the USA as well, and Cuban companies are fighting in American courtrooms to get their trademarks back.
One of those famous lawsuits is the one between Bacardi and the Cuban government about the use of ‘Havana Club’ on their rum. Havana Club is a famous Cuban brand, but in the United States Bacardi has the trademark. You can read more about that on Reuters. General Cigars and Habanos have been fighting over the Cohiba trademark for years as well, with sometimes wins for General Cigars, sometimes wins for Habanos.
Which one is the real one?
The question is, are all the non-Cuban versions of the Cuban brands ‘knock-offs’? In certain situations the answer is obvious. For brands founded after the Cuban revolution, non-Cuban versions are knock-offs. And those brands are Diplomaticos, Quai D’Orsay, Cohiba, San Luis Rey, Cuaba, Vegueros, Trinidad, San Cristobal and Guantanamera. In some cases, Habanos has the worldwide trademark for these cigars and therefore no non-Cuban version is available.
For all the other brands, the question is, who is the real owner of the trademark? All the brands prior to the revolution and nationalization were in the hands of individuals or family-owned businesses. When their brands were taken from them by the Castro regime, many of them fled the country and registered their brand name in the USA. So what’s the real deal? The legitimate owners now making cigars under the same name in another country, or a stolen brand name but the cigars are still produced in Cuba, but now by a socialist regime? Anybody with a sense of justice would say that the original owners are the legitimate owners of the brand. And thus that the non-Cuban versions are in fact the real deal, while the Cubans are stolen names and blends.
Who owns which trademark?
Over the last 60 years, most of the original owners sold their trademark to bigger companies, resulting into many trademarks in the hand of just two big players, General Cigars (subsidiary of STG) and Altadis USA. Now with Altadis USA, there is a link to Cuba. The owners of Altadis USA are also co-owners of Habanos together with the Cuban government, but that aside. Habanos holds a few trademarks too, and then there are a few surprises.
Romeo y Julieta
San Luis Rey
El Rey del Mundo
Hoyo de Monterrey
La Flor de Cano
La Gloria Cubana
San Cristobal de La Habana *
Habanos owns the trademark to the word Habanos too
*the trademark for San Cristobal, without ‘de la Habana’ is owned by Ashton
Jose L Piedra – Padron
Guantanamera – Guantanamera Cigar Company
Diplomáticos – Fuente Marketing Ltd
Fonseca – My Father Cigars