December 2023

Earlier this week, we published a story about a Trademark Clash: Serafin de Cuba Cigars Raises Concerns Over ‘La Floridan’ by Fratello Cigars. Unlike other publications, we did not blindly copy the claim that the trademark for La Floridan was cancelled on request of Serafin de Cuba. The USPTO website showed, and still shows, that the registration for La Floridan is live.

However, readers reached out to us, some even with a screenshot of a USPTO Letter of Suspension claiming that the letter is proof of cancellation of the trademark. Well, after further investigation it shows that it’s not true.

Letter of suspension

Simply put, a Letter of Suspension means that a trademark application has been put on hold for a particular reason.  It’s not unusual to receive a Letter of Suspension from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) a few months after filing a trademark application or a response to a trademark office action. A Letter of Suspension doesn’t affect the validity or viability of the trademark application.  The trademark application remains active, live, and “in line,” but no further action will be taken on your application until the situation that occasioned the suspension is resolved.  In other words, the trademark application just sits at the USPTO and nothing else happens until the examining attorney determines that removal of the application from suspension is appropriate.  Sometimes, action on the application may only be suspended for a few months.  But, in some cases, the application could be suspended for many years.

So our claim that the trademark isn’t cancelled is correct. It’s suspended until the situation is resolved, yet it’s not cancelled. That might happen in the future, it might also not happen.

Timeline

To give some clarity in this trademark battle, let’s recreate a timeline. Serafin de Cuba applied for a trademark for La Floridana on July 4th, 2022. Fratello followed two months later with an application for La Floridan. By that time, Serafin de Cuba had not released any cigar under La Floridana yet.

In October 2022, Fratello released La Floridan, Serafin de Cuba still hadn’t released La Floridana. La Floridana was released in July 2023 at the PCA Convention & Trade Show.

On august 8th of 2023, the trademark for La Floridana was approved, and according to Omar de Frias from Fratello cigars, it was that moment when Serafin de Cuba started mailing letters of cease and desist.

Both La Floridan and La Floridana are old brands, both originated in Tampa in the period of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Conclusion

As you can see, this case is quite complicated. Yes, Serafin de Cuba applied for the La Floridana trademark two months earlier than Fratello applied for La Floridan. But Fratello released the cigars ten months earlier than Serafin de Cuba. Plus, both are resurrected brands from more than a century ago.

What we suggest is that Omar de Frias and Arnold Serafin meet in a cigar lounge somewhere, away from lawyers, smoke a cigar and come up with an amicable solution. May we suggest a La Floridan y La Floridana cigar sampler, sold by both to their accounts with parts of the proceeds donated to a charity?

PDF: 231213 Serafin de cuba vs fratello letter of suspension

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