News and Facts about Cuba

Rum Wars: The U.S.-Cuba Battle over Havana Club May Be Nearing an End

Rum Wars: The U.S.-Cuba Battle over Havana Club May Be Nearing an End

The moment of truth approaches to decide the outcome of a decade of

Cuba-U.S. warring over the Havana Club rum trademark

By Anoosh Chakelian | @anooshchakelian | June 7, 2012

To the long history of animosity between the United States and Cuba —

the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs, the CIA's crazy plots to kill

— add the battle over who controls the U.S. rights to

Havana Club rum.

The two countries have been wrangling over the trademark to Havana Club

for more ten years, but the battle may now be drawing to a close, with

Cuba's state distillery in danger of losing rights to the brand to

liquor giant Bacardi — which makes its own Havana Club in Puerto Rico,

for sale in the U.S. Ongoing sanctions prevent Cuba from marketing its

version in the U.S., although it's sold in more than 120 other countries

around the world (it's now produced as a joint venture with French

liquor company Pernod Ricard.)

The history of the feud is convoluted: Havana Club was founded in the

Cuban capital by a man named José Arechabala in the 19th Century, but

following the Cuban revolution in 1959, the family company was

nationalized, and the Arechabalas emigrated to the U.S. They let the

trademark lapse in 1976, and in the 1990s they sold their residual

rights to Havana Club to Bacardi.

Cuba claims that when the time came to renew the trademark, in 2006, the

U.S. Treasury Department blocked them from getting the necessary license

as part of an underhanded effort to humiliate the country.

"Cuba does not have a valid registration," said Patricia M. Neal, a

spokeswoman for Bacardi USA, as reported by the Associated Press . "As a

matter of law, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will

formally cancel the registration of Cuba Export for the mark in due course."

On May 14, a 30-day countdown was launched after which the trademark

would be cancelled, which means that later this month, Cuba could lose

all claims to its name in the U.S., and therefore any opportunity for

further legal warring.

Maria de los Angeles Sanchez, director of Cuba's office of intellectual

property, told the AP: "The United States' disrespectful attitude in

divesting the legitimate Cuban owners of the Havana Club brand can put

at risk the brand and patent rights of American companies in our

country." Although as the AP notes, such retaliation would have "limited

immediate impact" — most U.S. goods are barred from the island under the

50-year-old U.S. .

http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/06/07/rum-wars-the-u-s-cuba-battle-over-havana-club-may-be-nearing-an-end/

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