Imagine you left your country, Ireland, and settled in Yucatan, Mexico, where you opened a pub using the Irish tradition of naming it after your last name, which happens to be Hennessy.

Today the Irish pub provides more than 50 direct and indirect jobs, pays taxes, and has become one of Merida’s landmarks, yet… things have gotten a bit complicated. A few days ago, Sean Hennessy, the owner of Hennessy`s Irish Pub, received a very unfriendly message. A cease-and-desist letter from lawyers in Mexico City demanding he drop the name Hennessey’s.

The lawyers in Mexico City apparently aren´t familiar with Sean Hennessy, who used his social media to answer them.

“Some days are more interesting than others, and some idiocies are greater than others. I just received a demand from lawyers in Mexico City to cease and desist from using my name, as in Hennessy’s Irish Pub, with immediate effect as they represent the brand holder of the same name cognac and Jas Hennessy and Co.

It is interesting to note that my little pub in the wilderness of Merida has caught the eyes of a big city law firm in Mexico City. I feel a little like poor Mr. Mc Donald in the Outer Hebrides, that lost his burger joint to Ronald, the clown. Anyway, I have prepared a response to the firm, and I want you to have a sneak English preview”.

Dear Sirs,
I am not sure of your command of the English language or the Irish tradition but allow me to explain. My name is Sean Hennessy, and I own an Irish Pub in Merida called Hennessy’s Irish Pub. A custom in Ireland is to name the pub after the family name of the owner. Apostrophe S denotes possession.

Richard Hennessy left Ireland with the Wild Geese in around 1690 and ended up settling in France and producing Cognac. He was quite good at it, and it became known as Hennessy Cognac, probably first known as Hennessy’s Cognac, until he dropped the s.

So if Mr. Lopez has a car hire business, it is known as Lopez’s Car Hire, and Mr. Martinez has Martinez’s Supermarket. I think you get the point, I own the pub, and I am using my name to define it in much the same way my ancestor Richard did to define his Cognac. He went on to become a worldwide brand which I am sure is very profitable. Should I share in those profits as it is our family name and send a cease and desist until I receive some of the profits.

Probably not worth my time as it just makes lawyers rich out of doing or producing nothing.
You may, if you wish to, do a Google search and find that there are Hennessy Irish Pubs all over the world, the vast majority in Ireland for obvious reasons, but also in Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, and even in Los Ángeles the most litigious place in the world. I don’t see them getting cease and desist demands. The reason is that the law firms already worked out it was too frivolous and without merit. You can thank me later for saving you the time to reach the conclusion that in this incident, your case of trademark infringement has no substance or precedence.

Interesting though, when speaking of using the name and likeness of the brand, I also modeled and represented the brand Hennessy Cognac in my thirties. This is still available online:

Should I be receiving money from this as it is the use of my image way after the terms of the agreement? Should I discuss this further with legal representation, or would it be more convenient for you to represent both sides?

My advice is to go chase an ambulance or find someone else to do as we are done here. As your client Hennessy or my ad says, time is too precious to waste.

Sincerely
Sean Hennessy


Perhaps the lawyers do not know, or they pretend not to know, but in Mexico, the law states that any person is allowed the use of their own last name in the market without the consent of the trademark holder as long as:
(i) it is done in good faith.
(ii) it is not a trademark use
(iii) such use is limited to identification or informational purposes and is not likely to mislead the public.

Maybe the lawyers in Mexico City are unaware of how much support and solidarity Mr. Hennessy has in Merida and how this issue could fastly become an error for the company they represent.

The Yucatan Times
Newsroom



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