What happened when? The history of Havana Club

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Like most legal battles, the row over Havana Club between Bacardi and Pernod Ricard has enough twists and turns to get even the smartest drinks exec in a state.

So, sit back, relax and take a look through this chronology of what happened to Havana Club and when.

1878: Industrias Arechabala founded in Cuba.

1921: Company becomes incorporated under the name José Arechabala SA.

1934: José Arechabala begins producing Havana Club rum at its distillery in Cardenas, Cuba and exports it to the US.

1935: The company registers the Havana Club trademark in the US. Arechabala makes Havana Club rum at its Cuban distillery and, during World War II, in Puerto Rico.

1955: José Arechabala's trademark of Havana Club in Spain and the Dominican Republic expires - it is not renewed. In Spain, the trademark remains in effect pending cancellation with only José Arechabala entitled to reinstate it.

1959: The Cuban Revolution takes place.

1960: 1 January - José Arechabala is taken over by the Cuban government, or "nationalised", as the government claims. The company's private assets are seized. Compensation is promised by law, but is never offered or paid. The Arechabala family - with the exception of one family member, who is imprisoned - leaves Cuba.

1966: The Cuban government -through a company called Cubaexport - registers the Havana Club trademark in 80 countries. Cuba is not allowed to sell in the US due to a trade embargo imposed by US authorities in protest over Castro's policies.

1966: In Spain, the Cuban government reinstates the trademark acting in the name of José Arechabala and later transfers the registration to itself.

1973: Havana Club trademark registration in the US lapses. The family maintain - and still maintain - that it was their intention to resume use of the trademark as soon as it is able to do so.

1976: The Cuban government registers the Havana Club trademark with the US Patent Office.

1993: The Cuban government creates a joint venture with Pernod Ricard -Havana Club Holding  (HCH) -to improve international sales of the brand.

1993: Pernod offers to buy the Arechabala family's claim to Havana Club. Bacardi seizes on this as Pernod's admission that the family owns the rights. Pernod counters, saying the payment was a "nuisance fee" to indemnify Pernod against future claims. The family refuses the offer.

1994: The Arechabala family forms an "alliance" with Bacardi.

1995: US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) grants licence to transfer Havana Club trademark from Cubaexport to HCH.

1995: Bacardi petitions the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to cancel HCH's registration.

1995: Bacardi begins selling a Bahamas-made rum called Havana Club in the US.

1996: HCH renews Havana Club's US registration and sues Bacardi for trademark infringement.

1997: Bacardi agrees to stop selling Havana Club pending the lawsuit.

1997: Bacardi acquires the Havana Club mark from the Arechabala family for an undisclosed sum.

1997: The court issues a partial judgment ruling that Havana Club registration by HCH is invalid, that HCH and HCI have "no rights" to the trademark in the US, and that "any rights they may have had, may have or claims to have had in the registration of the HC trademark… from forever until today are hereby cancelled." HCH is told it cannot sue Bacardi for trademark infringement without the relevant licence. HCH amends its lawsuit to focus on Bacardi's use of the Havana Club trade name.

1998: Before the courts can decide the trade name claim, a law called Section 211 is voted in. The legislation prevents recognition of trademarks confiscated without compensation by Cuba, except with the consent of the rightful owners.

1999: HCH's lawsuit against Bacardi is dismissed, with the judge saying that Section 211 precludes recognition of any rights of HCH for the trade name. An appeal is rejected and finally the Supreme Court says that it will not review the appeals court's judgement.

2000: European Union complains to the World Trade Organisation about Section 211, claiming the law breaches US commitments under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs).

2002: The WTO rules that the US can determine its own rules on ownership of trademarks, but that they must apply equally to all nationals. Two aspects of the TRIPS Agreement are violated by Section 211, the WTO rules - the prohibition of discriminations against foreigners and the "most favoured nation treatment" principle (i.e. the obligation to grant to Cuban nationals the same treatment accorded to nationals of other WTO Member States). The WTO recommends that the US "bring its measures into conformity with its obligations under the TRIPS Agreement". Bills to expand the scope of Section 211 to apply regardless of nationality, however, are still pending.

2006: 3 August - US PTO denies Cuban government a renewal of Havana Club registration - the office calls the trademark "cancelled/expired". Bacardi currently has had a trademark application pending with the PTO for the last 12 years.

2006: 8 August - Bacardi relaunches its Havana Club rum -made in Puerto Rico and based on original Arechabala family recipes - in the US. Bacardi maintains that it has been planning the relaunch for over a year, and that summer 2006 was always the target.

2006: 16 August - Bacardi is hit by another lawsuit from Pernod Ricard alleging misleading consumers and falsely claiming brand ownership in the US. Bacardi dismisses the claims as "inaccurate allegations".

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