Transcription from an article posted by Greg Mottola from Cigar Aficionado.
Posted: July 14, 2015
When Cuban tobacco farmer Hirochi Robaina announced on Friday that he was leaving Cubanacan and joining La Palina, it was as much a surprise to Cubanacan as it was to anyone else.
« We at Cubanacan cigars were surprised to find out that Hirochi Robaina and associates have new plans, » Cubanacan’s Robert Mederos said in a written statement. According to Mederos, who claimed to be « still in shock » about the move, Robaina gave him no warning of his departure. Mederos said he found out the news when Cigar Aficionado contacted him with questions about the story.
« We are deeply saddened that we even have to respond to actions that speak louder than words in the court of public opinion, » Mederos said in his statement, « and these actions seem to have been well planned and executed, having caused irreparable damage to our company. »
The future of the HR brand, of which the Toro size recently scored 92 points in Cigar Aficionado magazine, is unclear.
Robaina said that his namesake cigar brand belongs to him. « The HR brand was never a Cubanacan brand, so HR will go where I go, » Robaina told Cigar Aficionado.
Mederos said in his statement that Cubanacan will continue to sell the cigar. « We have a substantial invested interest in the HR brand, a brand that we’ve manufactured and distributed to retailers across the nation and will continue to do so. …We feel in this case these actions will have to be resolved not on the grounds of perceptions, confusion and Internet fiction, but on the grounds of facts presented through due process in a court of law. »
When asked if he intends to take legal action against Robaina, Mederos would not comment any further.
The move also calls into question the production of the HR brand. According to Robaina, HR cigars are made in Nicaragua at the La Corona factory owned by Omar González Alemán. While other Cubanacan brands were produced at La Corona as well, this is no longer the case. On July 10, La Corona’s legal team issued a press release stating that the factory is terminating its agreement with Cubanacan.
Mederos took issue with that statement as well, maintaining that La Corona was conceived as a partnership between Cubanacan and González Alemán.
Both Robaina and Cubanacan intend to be at the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers trade show in New Orleans, which opens this weekend. Robaina said he would be at the La Palina booth. Mederos confirmed that Cubanacan will be at its own booth.
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the HR trademark is owned by Cuba Tianzhiyuan Robaina Cigars Co., which is registered in Hong Kong.