Turkey: Turkish Patent Office Rejects A Trademark Application Due To Incorporating The Phrase "Cubano" Amongst Other Reasons

Last Updated: 3 June 2014
Article by Uğur Aktekin, Ali Bozoðlu and İpek Oğuz

In August 2010, PC DESIGN SARL filed an application no. 2010/52790 for "cubano original eau de toilette natural spray + device" before the TPI for the goods specified in classes 03 and 33.

HAVANA CLUB HOLDING S.A. ("HAVANA CLUB") filed an opposition against the application on the grounds that the application is not registrable in accordance with Article 7/1(c) of Decree Law, given that "it was not distinctive in the commercial industry, designated geographical origin and contained phrases which will deceive consumers," since it includes the phrase "CUBANO", referring to the country of "CUBA" as a principal element; as well as in accordance with Article 7/1(f) of Decree Law, given that "it was misleading for the public with respect to the nature, quality or place of production, geographical origin of the goods." since the scope of application covered the goods of alcoholic beverages under classification 33 and it comprises the phrase "EAU DE TOILETTE" which is deceptive for the public. As it is seen from the below visual, the main element of the application which attracts the attention of consumers is the phrase "CUBANO" which is known at an international scale with its meaning "CUBAN" in Spanish and Italian languages.

The trademark application numbered 2010/52790

As known to all "Cuban Rum" is a type of an alcohol called RUM, produced uniquely in Cuba Island for more than four centuries1, and has become distinguished in the world as one of the best due to the unique climate conditions and fermentation, distillation and aging proceedings applied in Cuba2. In consequence of its reputation, and given that its distinguishing features make it deserving of effective protection of its image and prestige, which at the same time protects consumers in international markets against confusions arising from false statements about the origin of overseas products of a similar nature, Cuba has built up a legal body dedicated to the prevention of dilution of the geographical indication Cuba, notably by creating a seal of warranty for certain products, to be affixed on a compulsory basis on these Cuban products being exported3. Third party countries, such as Germany and Spain, have also signed bilateral agreements with Cuba to protect this indication of origin. In addition to its worldwide reputation in the commercial market, the geographically indicated character of Cuba and the association between Cuba and Rum has also become legally acknowledged in the territory of Cuba. Following to this protection, Corporation Cuba Ron S.A., as one of the biggest Cuban rum producer companies and partner company of the client HAVANA CLUB, has applied to the Cuban Industrial Property Office for the exclusive rights of use of the denomination of origin CUBA on March 27, 2009 and the Cuban Industrial Property Office has granted this right to the client's partner on 20104. Within this framework, in the opposition filed against the above mentioned application, HAVANA CLUB expressed that the phrase "CUBANO" establishes a direct association with CUBA, denoting a geographical origin particularly with respect to the goods covered by the trademark application, alcoholic beverages.

Further to the rejection of the opposition in first instance, HAVANA CLUB claimed in appeal that the Trademarks Department's decision was not well grounded and emphasized that the phrases such as CUBA and CUBANO, shall be considered as appellations of origin with regard to the goods of alcoholic beverages and it was argued that any consumer, who saw the subject trademark CUBANO on the bottle of the drink, would associate it directly with Cuba and rum. As a result of the examination the appeal board of TPI determined that the "CUBANO" element on the trademark application lacked the distinctive character as it meant "Cuban, from Cuba" and indicated the origin of goods, and rightfully concluded that the subject trademark application was not distinctive for the goods covered by the application. Furthermore, the TPI added in its decision that, the device element which could be observed from the above visual and the portrait of an old president of the U.S., Benjamin Franklin lacked distinctiveness as a trademark and along with phrases such as "eau de toilette", "natural spray", "80 % vol." and "35 ml 1.17 Fl oz" could be misleading for the public.

The decision has become final as the applicant has not filed a cancellation action against the decision before the Courts within due time.

The decision of TPI is significant due to the reason that the phrase "CUBANO" is considered to indicate the origin of goods to Turkish consumers despite the fact that it is not a Turkish word. Additionally the decision sets a very good precedent in combating with trademark applications that incorporate geographical signs as an element that could make the public think that the goods covered by the application are associated with the relevant geography.


1. Cuban Rum History Tour Guide Service Havana. Document. 13 02 2014. (www.havanadiscoverytours.com).

2. Cuban Coffee Tobacco & Rum. tarih yok. 13 02 2014. (www.cubaluxuryhotels.com).

3. Cuban Government's Warranty Cuban Rum . No. 6206. 28 04 1999.

4. CONCLUSIVE EXAMINATION REPORT. No. 0714 / 2010. Cuban Industrial Property Office. 05 05 2010.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Uğur Aktekin
Ali Bozoðlu
İpek Oğuz
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions