Globally, trademarks, trade names, business emblems, establishment labels and trade slogans are symbols used to distinguish products and/or services, companies or businesses from their like on the market. Therefore, they are protection objects.
In the specific context of a region, having a system of trademark registrations in Cuba offers legal guarantees since its constituent effects grant exclusive rights in the use of the sign of the mark in the national territory and for the products contained in the registration.
A brand on itself encompasses the combination of signs, letters, colors, words, figures or symbols used to distinguish goods or services, and must be registered in order to be protected.
On the Cuban context of these records and their involvement in the Cuba Ron S.A. Corporation, Alicia Isabel Martínez, legal director of the entity explains the details.
Trademark registrations grant territorial and temporary rights to the holder to be able to exercise them backed by the law and these in turn can be positive (Faculty of use, enjoyment of the brand in commercial traffic materialized in the market. The trademark owner is granted the right to register for a term of 10 renewable years indefinitely) and negative (Ability to prohibit third parties from using identical or similar signs for the same or similar goods for which the mark is registered.)
The registration has a public nature that guarantees that all rights derived from that registration are recognized as is the case of priority law before third parties who intend to register signs or brands equal to or similar to that already requested, so this gives the owner protection and priority in the commercial field since the application for registration of the brand which gives it protection for use in trade.
The use of the trademark guarantees that the registration remains valid, because if the trademark is not used, it may be subject to a demand for expiration due to non-use within the time established by law.
The trademark registration system in Cuba focuses on the Cuban Industrial Property Office, hereinafter OCPI, the regulation of this activity guarantees and orders national commerce so that market players can compete with their distinction from each other and in benefit of consumers who can also choose and distinguish one product / entrepreneur from the other.
It is very important to note that the trademark system in Cuba also serves as the basis for obtaining trademarks in WIPO international registrations and in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. These registrations determine the date of priority to register in other countries members of WIPO (Paris Convention) as conventional priority to obtain the same priority date of the request made in Cuba.
How does the Cuba Ron SA Corporation benefit from having its different brands registered?
Our Corporation recognizes and attaches vital importance to the registrations of our trademarks in the national registry (OCPI), principally because of the multiple benefits that we obtain as a Legal Entity in the commercial sphere and the Rights that are granted to us by having our trademarks registered in the national territory as is the case of the Right of Priority with regard to other applicants for registrations of the same or similar signs. The registries in the national territory also serve as the basis for obtaining registries in other international territories that are of commercial interest and therefore obey the strategy of the Directorate of Exports of Cuba Ron.
Another one of the benefits of the registry is the acquisition of exclusive rights with effects erga omnes (opposition to thirds) for the future defense and protection of our trademarks in the national commerce as much international.
The Cuban Industrial Property Office (OCPI), through Resolution No. 0714 of 2010, granted to the Cuba Ron SA Corporation the Right of Use on the CUBA Designation of Origin, to distinguish “bottled Rums”, being the only entity to date that owns this right. In this way, the rights acquired by trademarks are strengthened and products are identified with the territory where they are produced, which indicates to consumers that there is a causal link with unique characteristics that distinguish our product from the rest. Due to its origin and the quality of being produced under unique conditions, in Cuban rum the human and natural factors are fused together with tradition and history, a seal that represents and dignifies us in the national and international market.
For exporting companies, it is of utmost importance not only to register their trademarks in national territory but also abroad. How does this process work? What is Cuba Ron SA's strategy to safeguard the brand identity of each of its products abroad?
The Cuba Ron SA Corporation focuses its Industrial Property activity on the trademark issue, as it is not an entity that generates marketable technological results on itself, and does dedicate its work to the production and commercialization of rum, for which it is essential, in order to position our products in the market, to design an suitable protection and defense strategy for our brands. There is an Intellectual Property procedure in the Corporation that establishes the steps and responsibilities in the trademark registration process, but registration abroad is always based on the Corporation's Export strategy and the decision of the President and Legal Director of the Corporation according to the brand strategy.
The registrations of new brands or the extension of previous registrations in different territories respond, first of all, to the export strategy of our company.
The support of all our work in matters of Industrial Property to materialize the aforementioned is layed out in our brand strategy, where it is established:
-That the new trademarks are registrable in the vast majority of the target markets. Hence, we carry out a preliminary study, together with our Industrial Property agents and the Directorate of Exports, in relation to the causes of unregistrable trademarks that are included in the different national laws that are of interest to us. With this we seek the greatest possible internationalization of brands and commercial interests
-Once these analyses have been carried out, we proceed to carry out interference searches, to determine whether if, in the different markets, there are equal or similar brands to the ones we are proposing and if so, we do not proceed to the registration or we try to negotiate with the owners in case the sign is of high interest to Cuba Ron SA Corporation.
-Once the request is submitted, we are pending, together with our agents, any requirement or communication from the National Office.
- Once the trademark is registered, the defense stage begins. There we watch to oppose third party registration requests for trademarks equal or similar to ours in class 33 or related classes. We are alert to any third party infringement that constitutes an act of unfair competition. In this case, we generally try to resolve with cease and desist letters that establish agreements. If not, we file lawsuits.
-It is very important to be attentive to renewals so that our brand does not expire and can be registered by third parties. Likewise, we monitor the actions of third parties in case they do not renew signs that offer us obstacles to continue with the registration in that territory to our name.
- We monitor the use of the term Cuba, since we currently have the right of exclusive use of the CUBA PDO and this task is carried out by Cuba Ron also on behalf of the Regulatory Council established in Resolution 343 of 2013 of the Ministry of the Food Industry that establishes the requirements of the CUBA PDO and the creation of the Regulatory Council.
By registering the brand identity of each product in our portfolio, we are safeguarding a part of our national culture. How important is this aspect to Cuba Ron S.A?
The Cuba Ron SA Corporation, a continuation of the most genuine tradition of Cuban rum production, seeks to keep positioning its brands and the "Cuba" origin in the world market, for it is very important that our brands are associated with the CUBA PDO, for this adds value to all of our productions.
Our products mark a distinctiveness in the trade and in the process of making our rums, taking into account that the singularities of Cuban rum are fundamentally due to natural and human factors (Cuban Rum Masters) that influence the entire process (from cane cultivation to aging). On this basis, we request the PDO “CUBA” and therefore also our right of use. In this sense, we are concentrating on extending its registration not only in Cuba and the members of Lisbon, but also to other countries such as Russia, the Andean Community of Nations (Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia) and the European Union.
The Knowledge of the Masters of Cuban Rum have been declared by the National Heritage Council as "Cultural Heritage of the Nation" and Cuba Ron has given this the greatest importance, supporting and accompanying the movement of Cuban rum masters in their request to UNESCO that they be recognized and also included in the list of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Our Marketing and Communication Directorate in conjunction with the Industrial Property Group and the Export Directorate carry out impressive work in advertising our brands so that consumers know how to identify which are the Cuban rums, through dissemination campaigns, insertion of articles in foreign magazines to make Cuba and the world know the history, tradition, origin and quality that our products deserve.