Pernod Ricard loses US Havana Club appeal

on 30/03/11 at 11:13 pm

Industry

Pernod Ricard has lost the latest US court ruling in its battle with Bacardi over the right to use the Havana Club brand name in the US market.

The ruling is the latest twist in a decades-long saga between Pernod Ricard, which sells Havana Club rum made in Cuba outside the US, and Bacardi USA, which sells a product called Havana Club, which is not made in Cuba, within the US market.

Due to a trade embargo, rum made in Cuba cannot currently be sold in the US.

The ruling, handed down by a US appeals court in the District of Columbia, affirms an earlier court decision that found that the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control was right in prohibiting Cubaexport, a Cuban state-owned company, from renewing the Havana Club trademark, which came up for renewal in 2006.

The prohibition dates back to a 1998 law which banned renewals of certain trademarks, including the one Cubaexport has held since 1976. The ruling handed down yesterday (Tuesday 29 March) has no impact on Bacardi.

Bacardi, which is also trying to register the Havana trademark in the US, said it was “thrilled” with the decision and added how it believes the decision effectively means “the Cuban government’s registration is expired and cancelled”.

Pernod, however, expressed its deep disappointment and said it “strongly disagrees” with the decision.

However, the company was encouraged by the dissenting opinion of one of the three judges, who called the decision “unsound doctrinally”.

Pernod said it would work with Cubaexport to seek a rehearing and to continue to defend the trademark in the United States.

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