Communists and Property Rights: An Anomalous Problem

Cuban cigars have, of course, been illegal in the United State since the inception of the Cuban embargo in the 1960s. Yet many cigars are available here with traditionally Cuban brand names. That is because tobacco growers in other parts of the Caribbean, many of them Cuban refugees with Cuban seed, use Cuban brand names when exporting to the United States. For example, the name “Cohiba” belongs to the Cuban government (because the Cuban government expropriated it) except in the United States. A private manufacturer owns the name here.

It seems likely that soon it will be legal for the Cuban government to export its cigars to the United States. When that happens, the Cuban government and the private owners will probably litigate entitlement to the duplicate brand names.

Now Communists abjure the concept of property. The trademark to the duplicate brand names is a form of intellectual property, which is to say property. It will be amusing to see the Cuban government profess in court the primacy of its property rights, especially since it stole those rights to begin with.


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