Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, February 11, 2016 at 5:00 p.m., the Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled, “Resolving Issues with Confiscated Property in Cuba, Havana Club Rum and Other Property.” At the hearing, members will examine the issue of private and religious property, including trademarks, that were seized by the Cuban government between 1959 and 1961 with little to no compensation. In the early 1960’s, the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (FCSC) at the Department of Justice was tasked with documenting a comprehensive list of claims by American citizens and businesses for their expropriated property in Cuba.  In 1972, FCSC certified over 7,000 claims.  These claims, including interest, are currently valued at over $7 billion.

Witnesses for Thursday’s hearing are:

Panel One

  • The Honorable Kurt Tong, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State
  • Ms. Mary Denison, Commissioner for Trademarks, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Panel Two

  • Mr. Rick Wilson, Senior Vice President, Bacardi-Martini, Inc.
  • Mr. William A. Reinsch, President, National Foreign Trade Council
  • Mr. Mauricio J. Tamargo, Poblete Tamargo, LLP
  • Ms. Lilliam Escasena, Cuban Property Claimant, Miami, Florida

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) issued the following statements on Thursday’s hearing.

Chairman Goodlatte: “This week the IP subcommittee will examine the issue of confiscated property in Cuba.  The Cuban government, led by Fidel Castro, has stolen billions in property, including homes and businesses, owned by Americans and American investors.  Perhaps the most recognized case is that of the Archebala Family liquor business, which had its trademark for Havana Club Rum seized by the Cuban government and then licensed to another company against the family’s wishes.  As the Obama Administration looks to improve relations with Cuba, important questions remain about how these claims will be satisfied.”

Subcommittee Chairman Issa: “Integrity in our trademark system is fundamental to property rights in the United States. The decision to grant the Havana Club trademark to the Cuban government decades after it was effectively stolen during the revolution is an act that deserves scrutiny by the Committee.”

Thursday’s hearing will take place in 2141 Rayburn House Office Building and will be webcast live at https://republicans-judiciary.house.gov/. Camera crews wishing to cover must be congressionally-credentialed and RSVP with the House Radio-TV Gallery at (202) 225-5214.