Bacardi has promised to "vigorously defend" its position in the battle over Havana Club rum after Pernod Ricard stung the company with a lawsuit.

Bacardi said the lawsuit claims it is misleading consumers by naming its version of the rum - which is made in Puerto Rico - after the capital of Cuba. However, the privately-owned spirits giant dismissed what it saw as "inaccurate allegations".

"The front of the bottle clearly states that Havana Club is Puerto Rican rum," Bacardi said today (16 August). "Nowhere on its packaging does it claim to be produced in Cuba. Rum requires no geographic designation, in contrast to Champagne, Scotch, Cognac or Bourbon, which by law must be produced in specific regions."

Bacardi relaunched Havana Club in the US - initially just in the Florida market - earlier this month, one week after the US Patent and Trademark Office ruled that Cuba's registration of the Havana Club trademark "cancelled/expired."

Subsequently, the Cuban government can no longer claim the rights to the trademark in the US, where Cuba's products are blocked anyway by a trade embargo. Bacardi - which claims to own the rights to the brand based on use and as a successor to the original owners - has a pending application to register the mark in its own name.

While Pernod has no trademark registration and no rights to Havana Club in the US, the French company has owned the trademark in almost all other markets worldwide since it set up a joint venture with the Cuban government in 1993.

Pernod declined to comment on the matter when contacted by just-drinks this morning.