The fight to claim the Captain Morgan rum brand between Allied Domecq and Diageo, could take up to 18 months to be resolved, the Independent's website said today.

The news story claimed that the two companies believe the final outcome may not be known until the middle of next year if the case proceeds to a full court hearing.

A judge in San Juan has recently heard the cases of Allied and Diageo about why each company should be granted the rights to the Captain Morgan assets. However, no ruling on whether the case will be taken forward has been announced.

Captain Morgan was part of the portfolio of wines and spirits that Diageo bought with Pernod Ricard in December. When the brands were split up between the two bidders after the sale the Captain Morgan brand passed into Diageo's control.

However, weeks before the sale was complete, Allied Domecq claimed it had acquired the Captain Morgan brand independently of the Seagram sell-off. It said that it had struck a deal with the producer of the brand, the Puerto Rican Destilleria Serralles, which claimed to have the rights of first refusal to Captain Morgan in the event of any sale.

For the time being Diageo will assume control of the brand.

A protracted legal dispute is likely to suit Allied more than Diageo which stands to receive $1.2bn in compensation from Seagram if it loses Captain Morgan. And, industry contacts believe Allied would appeal any case that goes against it.