Blog: Olly WehringBacardi and Pernod - another battle starts, but who will win the war?

Olly Wehring | 14 August 2006

The uneasy impasse between Bacardi and Pernod Ricard flared up last week, as the ‘Havana Club War’ (as we’ve coined it) kicked off again.

Earlier this month, the US patent authorities blocked the Cuban government’s move to renew its trademark registration of Havana Club in the US.

Bacardi claims it legally owns the rights to the name having bought it from the founding family and last week announced that it was relaunching its own version of Havana Club, initially in Florida. The timing, Bacardi maintains, was coincidental.

The situation is one where both sides are as right or as wrong as the other. Where it goes from here is anyone’s guess, especially with Bacardi pushing for trademark registrations in other markets around the world, while Pernod insists that its rights to the name outside the US are safe.

“We bought the rights from the legitimate owners,” says Bacardi. “No court anywhere has ruled that they’re the rightful owner,” Pernod counters.

Who will win? I daren’t call it. But I’ll tell you who will lose if this isn’t handled deftly, and that’s the consumer. Two products with the same name will dilute brand equity for Pernod, while Bacardi will have a job on its hands explaining the differentiation.

And that’s good for no one.


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