As American businesses continue to express interest in Cuban markets (see, for example, my previous article in Texas Lawyer), it is easy to forget that trademark disputes can go in both directions. Just as U.S. companies are interested in intellectual property protection for their own brands as they expand into this opening market, Cuba is making its own moves to push back. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s recent decision regarding Havana Club is illustrative, and speaks to the challenges that will inevitably arise as relations thaw.
Companies seeking to expand into international markets, or concerned about the effects of international trademarks on domestic interests, could benefit from discussing these matters with qualified trademark counsel. Available services can include trademark screening, portfolio monitoring for existing marks, and intellectual property inventories to determine the full-range of options for protecting these valuable assets.
— James Creedon