A 25-member bipartisan delegation within the Florida Congress has called for the Trump administration to issue an executive revocation of a Cuban company’s Havana Club registered trademark. Bicardi America, the American-owned company who bought the original rum recipe from Cuban exiles, maintains the shared names and trademark make it difficult to maintain brand equity.
The request is being spearheaded by the outspoken anti-Cuban Republican legislator, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat. A trademark infringement lawsuit is currently pending a hearing in the presiding District of Columbia court system.
The group cites the Treasury Department’s Office for Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) decision to do away with their longstanding policy against granting Cuban companies to register their intellectual property assets with the United States as grounds for requesting the revocation. The OFAC’s decision, an initiative initially suggested by the State Department, went into effect in February of 2016.
In requesting an executive review of the policy change, the lawmakers who make up this delegation have specifically requested to be told why the OFAC failed to take into account section 211 of 1998’s Omnibus Appropriations Act, and apply it to this case. This section stipulates that pending trademarks must be evaluated to see if they’re linked to some type of confiscated property or whether possession of the trademark has been obtained illicitly.
Despite the fact that, in granting this license, it was intended to set a precedent for new United States foreign policy with respect to Cuba, this delegation’s legislators worry that this decision has the potential to weaken the county’s other intellectual property claims. They argue that such a policy calls into question the right of Americans to lay claim to their trademarks when challenged by foreign governments.
If you have questions surrounding a right to a registered trademark or copyright, a Collier County, Florida, intellectual property can provide advice in your legal matter.
Source: Miami Herald, “Florida lawmakers ask Trump administration to revoke Havana Club trademark license,” Nora Gamez Torres, March 29, 2017