FRANCE: Pernod comes out guns blazing on Havana Club
The French company confirmed yesterday (8 August) that its rum arm had been notified by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that it was not allowed to renew its trademark registration in the US.
"This decision, by the USPTO, was made in compliance with Section 211, a retroactive regulation condemned by the World Trade Organisation (WTO)," Pernod said. "This decision is a further episode in the long-standing process of defending Havana Club rights in the US."
Pernod was responding to moves yesterday by spirits rival Bacardi to relaunch its version of Havana Club in the US, the world's largest rum market. The privately-owned spirits giant decided to launch the brand following the ruling from the US patent authorities.
Pernod said its Havana Club rum has a stamp of authenticity on it from the Cuban government to avoid any consumer being misled as to its origin.
The company added: "Pernod Ricard will vigorously defend its rights, and those of the consumer, by appealing to the relevant Court against the rejection of the application to renew the US trademark registration and against any use of the Havana Club trademark for any rum, which is not Cuban," the company warned.
The trademark ruling marked a fresh twist in the long-running battle between Pernod and Bacardi over the US rights to Havana Club.
Bacardi has long claimed the brand and associated assets were illegally confiscated from Havan Club's original owners by the Cuban government during the 1959 revolution. Bacardi has a pending application to register the mark in its own name, having introduced the brand into Florida.
Bacardi claims that the company that historically produced and exported Havana Club, Jose Arechabala, was the continuation of a business that was founded in Cuba in 1878.
In 1993, the Cuban government signed an agreement with Pernod to sell the rum around the world, except in the US, where the trade embargo blocked the sale of Cuban products.
In 1999, Bacardi persuaded US legislators to change the law so trademarks for brands confiscated by the Cuban government could not be renewed.
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