Today Gurkha Cigar Group made a statement that it would be filing a lawsuit against Davidoff over the use of the “Year of the Dragon” name. According to Bianca Lopez, Director of Marketing for Gurkha Cigar Group, “We have owned the trademark since 2009 and we’ve always protected it. There have been other instances where people have used it and we have intervened.” She also added that they “own several others” – in regard to other zodiac names but declined to continue to comment further due to legal reasons.
K. Hansotia & Co., Inc. filed for a trademark on “Year of Dragon” in the cigars realm earlier in thew year. Davidoff & Cie. SA then opposed that trademark. Now that particular trademark is listed as opposition pending. Gurkha filed their application on November 2, 2022.
Gurkha Cigar Group, Inc. v. Davidoff of Geneva, USA, Inc. was officially filed as of yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Gurkha said that it reached out to Davidoff back in July of this year when they learned this release would happen but received nothing back from them. Gurkha says that they are seeking damages for lost profits, enhanced damages and costs of attorneys’ fees.
The trademark is owned by Kazaid Hansotia through his company K. Hansotia & Co. Inc. which is a separate entity from Gurkha Cigar Group, but both companies are owned by Kazaid Hansotia. Gurkha told us that they have a license agreement from K. Hansotia & Co. to use the name. You can see the actual listing of the trademark below or you can visit the listing here. One key thing that to be honest, I don’t know much about, Gurkha’s trademark states they only have the term “Year of Dragon” trademarked, missing “the”. One would assume this could be a loophole for Davidoff, but I am sure it can’t be that cut and dry.
When we visited the trade show in July, Juan Lopez did tell us that they had owned the trademark for it. Many people assumed that this couldn’t be true until today. If Gurkha is successful in court over the use of the name, this could potentially be a major shake up to one of the largest growing annual releases from not only just Davidoff but several other companies who have now begun to jump on the zodiac bandwagon. Davidoff was not the only one to release a Year of the Dragon cigar. Maya Selva released what they called “Año del Dragón 2024” using the Spanish spelling back in mid-Fall in the US market but as of now, no legal actions have been taken.
Davidoff has sold a Year of the Dragon cigar before; it was released in 2011 for 2012. However, that cigar was the first in their endeavors into the Chinese zodiac releases and was known as Cuvée Selection 2012 Year of the Dragon. It came in a simple brown paper bundle that only said Cuvée Selection 2012, featured only the classic white Davidoff primary and secondary bands and was also only released in Asia. Very little else is known about that cigar.
Gurkha announced earlier this week that they had begun shipping their version of the Year of the Dragon and it is possible they waited until then to announce the trademark dispute. We reached out to representatives at Davidoff but they have declined to comment. This is a developing situation, and we will provide updates when we know more.