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Pernod Ricard, Cubaexport Gain U.S. Approval For Havana Club Trademark

January 15, 2016

Pernod Ricard and its Cuban partner Cubaexport have won a victory in their dispute with Bacardi over the Havana Club rum trademark in the U.S. market.In recent days, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recognized Cubaexport’s Havana Club trademark. The trademark, which must be renewed every 10 years, runs out this month, but Pernod confirmed to SND that a fresh renewal petition has already been submitted.

The decision paves the way for Pernod Ricard USA to begin importing Havana Club—if the U.S. Congress lifts the current embargo on Cuban goods. In his State of the Union address earlier this week, President Obama—who has recently reestablished full diplomatic relations with Cuba—called on lawmakers to end the embargo.

Pernod has said that it could potentially sell 1.7 million cases of Cuban rum in the U.S. if the embargo was lifted. The French company also registered a Havanista trademark in the U.S., pending the outcome of the battle for Havana Club. Pernod recently invested $100 million in Cuba’s San Jose de las Lajas distillery, where Havana Club is produced. The brand sells around 4 million cases globally.

Bacardi, which was founded in Cuba before fleeing the country in the wake of the Castro revolution, continues to claim rightful ownership of the Havana Club trademark. Bacardi has been selling a Puerto Rico-produced Havana Club line in the U.S. in limited quantities since the mid 1990s.

In a statement, Bacardi said in part: “Bacardi is shocked by this unprecedented action taken by the United States government. In essence, this administration has reversed long-standing U.S. and international public policy and law that protects against the recognition or acceptance of confiscatory actions of foreign governments. Bacardi purchased the rights to the Havana Club trademark from the creators and original owners—the Arechabala family, who made their rum in Cuba and exported it to the U.S. and other countries until their rum-making facilities and personal assets were seized without compensation during the Cuban revolution. Bacardi has and will continue to pursue all the necessary legal actions to defend its position. As we have maintained all along, Bacardi is the legitimate owner of the brand.”

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