Issa Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Stop Illegal Use of Stolen Trademarks
Washington D.C — Congressman Darrell Issa (CA-50), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet in the House Judiciary Committee, and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) today announced the reintroduction of the “No Stolen Trademarks Honored in America Act.” They were joined by cosponsors Senator Robert Menendez (NJ) and Senator Marco Rubio (FL).
The bipartisan legislation forbids U.S. courts from recognizing, enforcing, or validating any proclamation of rights by an individual of a trademark confiscated by the Cuban government, without the consent of the original owner.
“This legislation is about more than one circumstance. It is the righting of a historical wrong and acknowledgement of the inherent value of intellectual property and the ownership of one’s ideas and creations,” said Issa. “This legislation specially makes a technical correction to our law to ensure that protections apply to all parties claiming U.S. rights to confiscated Cuban trademarks – regardless of nationality.”
“I remain firmly committed to safeguarding the intellectual property rights of American companies to ensure that trademarks are protected against confiscation by any foreign government,” Rep. Wasserman Schultz said. “This legislation prohibits courts from validating an assertion of trademark rights in connection with a business or assets confiscated by the Cuban government and supports the true and just owners of stolen property – a long-held U.S. policy that absolutely must be continued.”
“Any confiscation of assets by the Castro regime is and always has been a crime,” said Sen. Menendez. “This bipartisan, bicameral bill will protect U.S. trademarks by codifying into law the longstanding U.S. policy of supporting rightful owners of stolen property by prohibiting courts from recognizing the rights of those subjected to confiscation without consent by the Cuban government.”
“It has long been U.S. policy to support the rightful owners of stolen property. For 60 years, the despotic Cuban dictatorship--through government-controlled companies--has profited from intellectual property that was stolen and rightfully belongs to ordinary Cubans and their descendants,” said Sen. Rubio. “I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan bill, which ensures that U.S. courts do not recognize, enforce, or otherwise validate any trademark rights from businesses or assets stolen by the Cuban regime.”
In 1959, the assets of Havana Club were seized by the Cuban government. Even though the trademark expired in 1974, descendants of Havana Club’s founder in 1994 retailed the trademark and recipe to Bacardi, one of the world’s largest liquor producers. Local Cuban firm Cuba Ron, however, filed and received a U.S. trademark on the name and aligned with Pernod Ricard to sell a competing “Havana Club” rum. Because of Cuba’s confiscation of the original company, this legislation bans the Cuba Ron/Pernod Ricard partnership from using the rights of Havana Club. The bill applies a trademark prohibition only if the individual asserting the rights knew or had reason to know the trademark was the same or substantially similar to one used with any confiscated business or assets.