The Cuban cigar company Cubatabaco has won a court order enjoining General Cigar from continuing to use the COHIBA trademark in the United States.
Federal judge Robert W. Sweet, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, issued the injunction on December 14, 2009.
COHIBA is the world’s most famous and coveted cigar. It is sold everywhere except the United States, where the U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba prevents its sale. General Cigar, a major U.S. cigar company, sells a Dominican-made cigar under the COHIBA name in the United States.
In issuing the injunction, Judge Sweet found that, at the beginning of the cigar boom in the United States in 1992, “General Cigar selected COHIBA for a new product in order to exploit the reputation and goodwill of the Cuban COHIBA ” in the United States. Judge Sweet additionally found that General Cigar “continues to profit from the Cuban COHIBA goodwill” in the U.S.
General Cigar has stated that it will appeal Judge Sweet’s decision. Under the terms of the injunction, General Cigar is permitted to sell its Dominican-made cigars under the COHIBA name until its appeal is decided.
Judge Sweet still has before him Cubatabaco’s claim to recover the profits General Cigar has obtained since 1992 by exploiting the COHIBA reputation. No date has been set yet for proceedings on Cubatabaco’s claim.
Michael Krinsky and David Goldstein, of the New York law firm Rabinowitz Boudin Standard Krinsky & Lieberman, P.C., the U.S. attorneys for Cubatabaco, said today that “Judge Sweet’s decision fully vindicates the fundamental principle that a company cannot be permitted to reap what it has not sowed, that it cannot be permitted to exploit the goodwill and reputation of another company’s product.”
Judge Sweet found that the COHIBA unique reputation for excellence is so strong that the U.S. consumer “primarily associates the designation COHIBA with the Cuban COHIBA ,” even though the COHIBA cannot be sold in the United States. Judge Sweet found that this lead General Cigar to “to plagiarize the mark” by “intentional copying.”
Judge Sweet’s decision is the latest round in a 12 years litigation over the COHIBA trademark in the United States.
For further information, contact:
Cuban Attorney for Cubatabaco
Michael Krinsky, Esq.
Rabinowitz Boudin Standard Krinsky & Lieberman P.C.
212 254 1111 Extension 102
U.S. Attorneys for Cubatabaco