The U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) cancelled a trademark registration for Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG)’s Cohiba brand. The ruling was the result of a petition made by the TTAB and is the latest development in an ongoing battle between Empresa Cubana Del Tabaco (d.b.a. Cubatabaco) and STG.
The grounds for the cancellation given by TTAB were based on Articles 7 and 8 of the Inter-American Convention for Trade Mark and Commercial Protection (aka The Pan American Convention). Both the United States and Cuba were a part of the agreement.
STG has vowed to immediately appeal the ruling. Cohiba is a brand sold in the U.S. market under the General Cigar Company division of STG.
Régis Broersma, president of STG’s North America and Rest of World divisions said, “Cubatabaco’s challenge to General Cigar’s ownership of the COHIBA trademark in the U.S. has no merit and this decision by the TTAB will have no impact on General Cigar’s plans to manufacture, sell, market, and enforce the COHIBA mark in the U.S. General Cigar’s trademark registrations will also remain active while the appeal is pending.”
Owen McKeon, US general counsel for STG commented, “General Cigar disagrees with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s decision to cancel General Cigar’s COHIBA trademark registrations and intends to appeal the Board’s decision in federal court. The TTAB’s decision was based solely on a claim that Cubatabaco improperly sought to re-litigate. Cubatabaco’s claim had been decided over a decade ago in General Cigar’s favor in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and is contrary to clear U.S. Supreme Court precedent.”
The battle for the ownership of the Cohiba brand trademark has been going on for 25 years. This traces back to 1997 when a lawsuit was filed by Cubatabaco over trademark ownership of the Cohiba brand in the United States. In February 2005, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled unanimously in favor of General Cigar Co. In the ruling, the Second Circuit held that “General Cigar’s legal right to the COHIBA mark has been established against Cubatabaco. General Cigar has a right to use the mark in the United States because it owns the mark in the United States.”
Cubatabaco has yet to issue a statement at this time.