Bacardi USA wins Havana Club appeal

The South Florida Business Journal repots on the outcome of the most recent Havana Club legal wrangling.

Spirits maker Bacardi USA applauded a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday that upheld a lower court’s decision favoring the company’s Havana Club trademark registration in the U.S.

The dispute with Paris-based Pernod Ricard stems from the Cuban government’s confiscation of the Havana Club trademark decades ago.

According to Businessweek, Pernod Ricard and Cubaexport plan to keep fighting the trademark battle with further appeals.

Coral Gables-based Bacardi USA uses the Havana Club name in the U.S. to sell rum produced in Puerto Rico.

Pernod Ricard continues to sell Cuban-made rum under the Havana Club trademark outside the U.S.

“Bacardi USA applauds the U.S. Court of Appeals for confirming that the Cuban government had no ‘vested right’ to the renewal of the Havana Club trademark registration in the U.S., and that the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) acted lawfully in denying Cubaexport a license for the renewal,” Bacardi spokeswoman Patricia M. Neal said in a news release.

Neal said the ruling shows that Cuban confiscation of trademarks without compensation to the original owners does not extend to U.S. trademarks.

Last year, Bacardi won a federal court decision that favored its packaging, marketing and ownership of Havana Club in the U.S. The dispute erupted after Bacardi started marketing the rum in 2006.

Pernod claimed that, by using the name Havana Club, Bacardi was misleading consumers into thinking its rum is made in Cuba, when it is actually made in Puerto Rico.

Last year’s ruling held that the origin of Bacardi’s Havana Club rum is geographically accurate, as the bottle clearly states it is Puerto Rican rum based on the original Cuban recipe created by the family of Jose Arechabala.

Bacardi purchased the rights to Havana Club from the family, which made rum in Cuba from the 1930s until 1960. The family had exported it to the U.S. and other countries until the Cuban government seized their rum-making facilities and personal assets.

Master rum blender Luis Planas testified that he based the Bacardi rum on the family’s recipe, and it took more than three years to finalize the product due to the length of fermentation.

Under the trade embargo with Cuba, Pernod Ricard rum can’t be sold in the U.S.

For the original report go to Bacardi USA wins Havana Club appeal | South Florida Business Journal

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