Gurprit Kindra, professor of marketing at the Telfer School, served as an expert witness in a recent case decided by the Federal Court of Canada. The dispute involved Corporation Habanos, the makers of Cohiba cigars, and Tequila Cuervo of Mexico. Corporation Habanos sought protection under Canada’s Trade-marks Act when Tequila Cuervo sought to market a rum in Canada c called “Lazaro Cohiba” rum.
Normally, under such circumstances, the applicant has to prove in Court the fame of the brand in question in the marketplace, an expensive and time consuming process. As expert witness, Professor Kindra used the novel idea of using pop culture as a proxy for establishing a brand’s reputation. The Cohiba brand had been widely referenced in film, television, music and other media and Corporation Habanos, on the strength of that evidence, was able to demonstrate that Cohiba trademarks are widely known across Canada. In its decision, the Court prohibited Tequila Cuervo from using the Lazaro Cohiba name in Canada.
The decision (2013 FC 1010) is being appealed by Tequila Cuervo.