Cubatabaco, the state-owned entity that owns all Cuban cigar brands, is suing a Michigan tobacconist for trademark infringement, claiming his cigars shops, named La Casa De La Habana, too closely resemble its own La Casa del Habano franchised cigar retailers.
David Goldstein, a lawyer based in New York representing Cubatabaco, filed papers in a federal court last week in Detroit against Ismail Houmani, owner of La Casa De La Habana in Plymouth, Michigan.
Houmani opened the Plymouth store about a decade ago and since then has expanded, opening three other stores, all bearing the same name, including a flagship store in Detroit. The other two are located in Ann Arbor and Toledo, Ohio.
Each location is a standard brick and mortar cigar store with a smoking lounge and sells cigars from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua.
"I'm not selling or advertising Cuban cigars," Houmani said in an Associated Press report.
Although Cubatabaco, by federal law, is not allowed to actually sell cigars within the borders of the United States, the company can register trademarks, per international agreements.
For more, see tomorrow's Cigar Insider.