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Cuba wins lawsuit with US over famed Cohiba cigars

Cuba has won the latest round of a 25-year-old legal spat over US trademark rights to its famed Cohiba cigars, the smokes once favoured by Fidel Castro, the company that markets them said.

The ruling on Friday came after the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board on December 20 cancelled the US-based firm General Cigar’s trademark registrations for the term ‘Cohiba’ for cigars, said Habanos SA, a joint venture between Altadis of Britain and state-owned Cubatabaco.

General Cigar sells a non-Cuban version of the Cohiba brand in the United States, where Cuban Cohibas cannot legally be sold because of the US trade embargo.

The ruling means Cubatabaco can register the Cohiba brand trademark — considered the best of its 27 kinds of cigars marketed in more than 100 countries — in the US even though it cannot sell them there.

General Cigar said it will appeal.

25 years of legal battle

Cubatabaco said the fight over the trademark in the US goes back to 1997.

Cohiba cigars were first rolled in 1966 and owe their name to the word used by Indigenous people centuries ago to refer to the tobacco leaves they smoked.

Castro, who died in 2016, puffed on Cohibas until he kicked the habit in 1985.

Tobacco is one of Cuba’s main sources of export revenue.

Tobacco income grew 15 percent in 2021 to total 568 million dollars, according to Habanos SA.

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