Bacardi launched its Havana Club rum brand in the US five years ago

Bacardi launched its Havana Club rum brand in the US five years ago

Bacardi has welcomed the latest US legal ruling in favour of its Havana Club rum brand, while Pernod Ricard has vowed to continue its fight in the long-running row.

Yesterday (4 August), the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that Bacardi’s US arm was within its rights to sell its Havana Club rum in Florida, despite the product consisting of rum made in Puerto Rico. Although Pernod, which jointly owns and sells its Cuban-made Havana Club rum outside of the US with Corporación Cuba Ron, had claimed the name was misleading to US consumers, the three-judge panel said that Bacardi’s Havana Club clearly stated on the bottle that it comes from Puerto Rico.

“The Bacardi Havana Club rum is based on the original Cuban recipe from the creators of the brand, which was legally purchased by Bacardi and is now produced in Puerto Rico,” said Robert Furniss-Roe, regional president at Bacardi North America, late yesterday.

However, Ian FitzSimons, General Counsel for Pernod, said: “We disagree with the court’s decision, which is unfair to consumers in the US who are being deceived by a product labelled ‘Havana’ which has no connection whatsoever with Cuba.

“It is important to note that this decision does not grant any right in the ’Havana Club’ trademark to Bacardi. We are determined to continue to fight for fair competition in the US market where ownership of the ‘Havana Club’ trademark dates back to 1976.”

Bacardi launched its Havana Club in Florida, “in limited quantities”, according to the company, in 2006. In April last year, the Wilmington, Delaware, District Court ruled that the origin of Bacardi’s Havana Club is geographically accurate. Pernod’s appeal of that decision was argued in the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in February this year, with the ruling handed down yesterday.

While the two have recently been in the Spanish courts over the Havana Club trademark, just drinks exclusively reported in February that the only markets outside of the US that had granted Bacardi ownership of the trademark had revoked the company's registrations.

For more background on the row between Bacardi and Pernod, click here.

For Bacardi's official statement on the matter, click here.

Pernod's statement can be found here.