Battling with Bacardi

News from Cuba | Sunday, 10 April 2011

The battle for the ownership of the Cuba’s Havana Club rum trademark continues to rage on both sides of the Atlantic.

In February Cuba won a ruling when Spanish courts, for the third time, refused Bacardi’s attempt to challenge the ownership of the famous trademark Cuban rum in Spain. Ian FitzSimons, General Counsel, Pernod Ricard (who distribute the Cuban distilled rum in Europe) said: "This decision is a victory for the Havana Club brand.

This was a blatant attempt by our competitor, Bacardi, to claim rights in a trademark more than 30 years after an unused registration had expired."

However, in April the latest ruling of the US Court of Appeals stated that the "Havana Club" trademark Pernod Ricard SA uses for its rum in other parts of the world can't be used in the US.

In reaching this ruling, the US court used cited a 1998 law which relates to a “confiscated”business or trademark. This legislation was drawn up by former Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Otto Reich, who was advising Bacardi at that time, when the company was under litigation in New York for using illegally the Havana Club name.

Juan Gonzalez Escalona, head of the Cuban Rum Corporation said the ruling reinforced the economic, financial and commercial blockade the US has kept on Cuba for five decades. He explained that Cubaexport had registered Havana Club trademark in the United States in 1976 and gave the French beverage giant Pernod Ricard the rights to market it throughout the world.

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