As relations and trade slowly begin to thaw with Cuba, what is the state of intellectual property protection there? According to a report today in the Washington Post, I suppose “could be worse” is a good summary. There seems to be a willingness by the Castro government to protect consumer products brands such as Coke, but when it comes to entertainment like Seinfeld, not so much. Plus the Cuban government is upset that the US has not done more to protect important Cuban brands such as Cohiba cigars, and much litigation has ensued about that.
The attitude on the island seems to be that that things like entertainment should just be free. They charge almost nothing for people to go to movies, and there are no commercials on Cuban TV. So it’s not like they are making much money from the pirating of things like the show about nothing. But of course the creators of that entertainment, rightfully, feel they should be compensated for their use.
The US Government, according to the article, has chosen not to make IP an issue in talks with Cuba. At least not yet. But this is a challenge that awaits the slow swim to improving relations with our neighbor. Similar issues have not stopped trade with places like China, so hopefully it’s something the parties can address calmly and intelligently at the right time.
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