The Curious case of Cohiba vs Cohiba

A recent court ruling about the use of the fabled Cohiba brand has caused some confusion. Thankfully, Cigar Keep has Aaron Sigmond to help clear things up.

Intellectual property right litigation between General Cigar Co., the wholly owned premium cigar subsidiary of Scandinavian Tobacco Group, and Empresa Cubana del Tabaco (aka Cubatabaco) the Cuban state tobacco monopoly has been ongoing over the past four decades since 1997, with US courts ruling in favor of both parties at various points in time. 

While the trademark laws are far more clear cut in regards to pre-Cuban Revolution heritage brands (the United States recognizes the pre-Revolution owners as the the rightful trademark holders), Cohiba is of course famously a post-Revolution brand, created in 1966 and commercially released starting in 1982. 

Cigar Keep ambassador and author Aaron Sigmond has worn many hats in the cigar industry over his three decade career, one happened to be as creative director of General Cigar Co., makers of Macanudo cigar series, as well as the US market versions of Partagas, Punch, Bolivar and Hoyo de Monterrey, as well as the aforementioned American Market Cohiba. Also known as Cohiba Red Dot. 

When queried about the matter, which just last week saw GCC loose a seemingly decisive decision that resulted in the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruling to cancel General Cigar Co.’s Cohiba trademark registration, Sigmond demurred as to speculate as to where things will go from here.

“General and Cubatabaco are like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Two heavyweights that will battle until the end of time,” mused Sigmond. “This epic clash has been going on for almost thirty years.” 

“During my tenure at General, I primarily focused on other brands, notably and proudly on the Benji Menendez Partagas Master Series Majestuoso. So while Cohiba Red Dot was technically in my purview, it never really garnered my attention or imagation.” Sigmond added, “While this is an obvious setback for General, they’ve already stated they will appeal. So, safe to say that the epilogue of this saga, or epitaph of Cohiba Red Dot has yet to be written.”