February 2024

In December, Gurkha initiated legal action against Davidoff concerning the Davidoff Limited Edition 2024 Year of the Dragon cigar. Gurkha alleges that Davidoff’s Year of the Dragon cigar infringes upon several trademarks held by Gurkha as the licensee. Davidoff has now responded to the lawsuit by petitioning the court to dismiss it.

This lawsuit marks the second phase of the conflict. In November 2022, K. Hansotia & Co., Inc. applied for a trademark on “Year of Dragon” for cigars, which was opposed by Davidoff & Cie. SA, a subsidiary of Davidoff. Consequently, this specific trademark remains pending opposition. The disagreement delves into various aspects, including whether Davidoff previously marketed a cigar named Year of the Dragon and whether the term is eligible for trademark protection.

Gurkha, under the ownership of Kaizad Hansotia against earlier promises after outrage due to racist comments, asserts its exclusive licensing rights to several trademarks owned by K. Hansotia, including dragon, dragon fire, dragon lord, dragonslayer, imperial dragon, red dragon, and royal dragon.

Davidoff has petitioned Judge William P. Dimitrouleas of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to dismiss the case Gurkha Cigar Group, Inc. v. Davidoff of Geneva, USA, Inc. On February 9th, Davidoff filed two dismissal motions, though one was rejected without prejudice the same day.

Davidoff’s latest motion to dismiss is grounded on three primary arguments:
• Ownership of the “Dragon” Trademark: Davidoff contends that K. Hansotia & Co., Inc. is the rightful owner of the Dragon trademark, with Gurkha being merely a licensee.
• Jurisdiction of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB): Davidoff proposes that the dispute over Gurkha’s “Year of the Dragon” trademark should be resolved by the U.S. TTAB, a specialized court for trademark and copyright matters, rather than a federal court deciding on Davidoff’s alleged infringement.
• Incorrect Inclusion of Parties: Davidoff argues that Gurkha is not a pertinent party to this dispute, and that Davidoff of Geneva USA is not involved either, as it is Davidoff & Cie SA that opposed the trademark.

This filing also revisits arguments previously made during the TTAB opposition, such as Davidoff’s contention that “Year of the Dragon” refers to the years of cigar releases and should not be trademarked, akin to “2024.”

Since the lawsuit’s initiation, Gurkha has announced four additional Year of the Dragon cigars. Meanwhile, several other companies, including General Cigar Co., Habanos S.A., Oliva, La Galera, Plasencia, Rocky Patel, and United Cigars, have unveiled their own Year of the Dragon-themed cigars. There is no indication that Gurkha has pursued legal action against these companies.

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