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Bacardi Files New Havana Club Action As Pernod Vows To Defend Trademark

March 16, 2016

Bacardi has filed an amended complaint asking a U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. to cancel the Cuban government’s Havana Club trademark in the U.S., which was renewed for 10 years by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) last month. Naming Cubaexport and Pernod Ricard, which distributes Havana Club around the world, as defendants. Bacardi asserts that the trademark should be canceled due to “elaborate, misleading, fraudulent and deceptive activities employed by the Cuban government and its joint venture partner Pernod Ricard concerning the obtaining, maintenance and renewal of the Havana Club trademark in the U.S.”

Bacardi says it owns the “common law rights in the Havana Club mark for rum,” having purchased them from the brand’s founding Arechabala family, which fled Cuba during the Castro revolution. The company states that U.S. law “prohibits any U.S. court from recognizing, enforcing or otherwise validating the Cuban government’s assertion of rights in a mark incorporating the words Havana Club because the mark was associated with a business that was illegally confiscated by the Cuban government in 1960.”

In response, Pernod Ricard general counsel Ian FitzSimmons said, “We are confident that Cubaexport will prevail in defending its registration in the pending litigation. Cubaexport has been the registered owner of the Havana Club trademark in the U.S. since 1976, and owns the rights to the Havana Club trademark everywhere it is sold around the world.”

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