Cuba's government-controlled tobacco company is suing the owner of cigar shops in the Detroit area, claiming the name is too similar to its own global franchise.
Cuba can't do business in America because of a nearly 50-year-old trade embargo. Nonetheless, Cubatabaco claims it still has a right to protect its U.S. trademark even if it can't export Cuban cigars to U.S. shores.
Ismail Houmani owns four cigar lounges called La Casa De La Habana, in Detroit, Plymouth, Mich., Ann Arbor, Mich., and Toledo, Ohio.
Cubatabaco's stores are named La Casa del Habano. Houmani wonders why Cuba would even care.
Cubatabaco's lawyer, David Goldstein, says a trademark must be protected or it's just a piece of paper. A federal judge in Detroit is urging settlement.