In a closely watched case testing the limits of the U.S. embargo on Cuban goods, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Feb. 4 that an assignment of trademark rights by a Cuban national was an ineffective transfer of the disputed “Havana Club” mark for rum, leaving the plaintiffs with no right to enjoin the defendants from using the mark in this country (Havana Club Holding S.A. v. Galleon S.A., 2d Cir., No. 99-7582, 2/4/00).

The court, in an opinion by Judge Jon O. Newman, also held that the plaintiffs lacked standing to assert claims under the Lanham Act for false designation of origin and unfair competition. Given the embargo, the court said, the plaintiffs could show neither that they were currently injured in the United States by the defendants’ use of the mark nor that they could be injured in the future.

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