Republicans stoke trademark concerns over Cuban cigars

President Obama’s decision to ease restrictions on Cuban cigars is raising trademark concerns in the U.S.

In a letter sent Friday, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) blasted the Obama administration’s latest attempt at diplomacy with Cuba, which they say could present problems for American tobacco companies.

“What steps is your administration taking to ensure that trademarks belonging to U.S. companies are not adversely affected, or possibly further exploited or expropriated, by your policy of allowing imports of rum and tobacco products?” the lawmakers wrote to Obama.

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This comes as the Obama administration announced last week Americans traveling to Cuba can return with more cigars and rum than was previously allowed.

But Cuban cigarmakers are still prohibited from selling their products directly in the U.S.

The lawmakers are concerned the Cuban cigars travelers return with may violate U.S. trademarks.

They also suggested that human rights abuses are on the rise in Cuba, pointing to political arrests and church shutterings they say are orchestrated by the Castro regime.

“Since you laid out your vision for reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba in December 2014, human rights conditions in the country have worsened,” they wrote.

“We encourage you and your administration, in the waning days of your presidency, to provide at least as much transparency and engagement with the U.S. Congress as you apparently have cultivated with the Castro dictatorship,” they said.