While many expected Covid to make an appearance at the recent trade show in Las Vegas, absolutely no one anticipated that Arturo Fuente would commemorate the end of the convention with litigation against one of the largest tobacco brands in the world. Until a few days ago, if you heard the “Fuente” name spoken or read it on your screen it was almost certainly because of what many cigar fans were eagerly awaiting – The Fuente x Padron “Legends” reveal.
Given the givens, it has been more than slightly awkward to be researching Fuente’s legal filing against General just days after hearing about how important collaboration and mutual respect is within the industry. The cigar smoking public seems to be, as a group, just as confused by the commotion as General was to receive a cease-and-desist for their new BX3 cigar. Arturo Fuente claims that the BX3 infringes on AF’s trademark(s).
Far from the first time that CAO has used an “x” in their lines, past releases include the CX2, LX2, and MX2. Since there were no suits filed for those first three iterations, the argument that AF is simply protecting their brand as a matter of protocol doesn’t carry much sway.
The last thing I want is to get this publication sued for using images I don’t have permission to use, so you can look up the images when you have a moment, but from my own perspective – the CAO BX3 and Fuente “X” brand marks are completely dissimilar from one another. After half a lifetime in branding, advertising, and storytelling – I just don’t see where AF is coming from here.
I was barely out of high school when Fuente filed suit against Gurkha for the same type of infringement – but in looking back on that scenario Gurkha used the same tin manufacturer as AF and the look, feel and operation of the containers were nearly identical. This most recent filing appears to possess no resemblance at all to the Gurkha case, though.
While it is completely possible that I missed it, or that it is simply not available publicly, I could not find one trademark or copyright filed by Fuente Cigar LTD or Fuente Markeing LTD that claimed ownership of a single individual letter. All of their product names that include an “x” in them have been claimed, but I could not locate any instances of filing for “X” alone.
Bouncing around the back of my mind is a suit I remember wherein WalletHub, The Washington Nationals, and The Chicago Cubs were all looking to claim ownership of the letter “W” – a case which took 3 years to get resolved. Short story long, if the time and resources of two Major League Baseball teams couldn’t serve to expedite things – what hope do AF and General have for a quick solution?
The cause of action under which the case was filed includes an alleged breach of The Lanham Act. This may be quite the stretch, however, since it states that the infringing item(s) must be perceived by the court as “likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person, or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods, services, or commercial activities by another person.” The further along this case progresses, it may become clear that AF are the only ones who think there is any similarity, let alone any damage being done.
We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, how do you see this all playing out? Does it even show up on your radar?