Spirits giant Bacardi is set to relaunch Havana Club in the US.

The privately-owned company confirmed today (8 August) that it will relaunch the rum brand after US patent authorities ruled last week that the Cuban government's registration of the Havana Club trademark had "cancelled/expired".

The decision came just a week after the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had blocked a Cuban government move to renew the trademark registration.

The ruling from the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) marks a fresh twist in the long-running battle over the US rights to Havana Club.

Bacardi has long claimed the brand and associated assets were illegally confiscated from its original owners by the Cuban government and has a pending application to register the mark in its own name.

Bacardi says 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 1960, Bacardi claims, the company was seized by the Cuban government.

"Bacardi commends OFAC and the PTO for following US law and worldwide principles that prevent registration or renewal of trademarks obtained through confiscation, without compensation to the original owners," said John P. Esposito, president and CEO of Bacardi USA.

In 1993, the Cuban government formed a joint venture, Havana Club International, with French drinks giant Pernod Ricard to produce and market the brand globally outside the US, where the trade embargo blocked the sale of Cuban products.

Bacardi and Pernod have since been fighting over the rights to Havana Club in the US in a battle that had reached the US Supreme Court. The decision from the country's patent authorities seems to pave the way for Bacardi to launch Havana Club in the US, the world's largest rum market.

Bacardi was quick to point out, however, that the timing of the product relaunch is purely coincidental. "We've been planning this for many years," said John Gomez, vice president and group marketing director for Bacardi USA. "We always owned the brand. There was no issue in our minds. It was only a question of when it was commercially appropriate for the relaunch."

The rum will be marketed at the same level as Grey Goose vodka as a premium product. The relaunch will initially concentrate on the Florida market, where Havana Club is already available, but a roll-out across the US has not been ruled out in the future.

Officials at Pernod could not be reached for comment as just-drinks went to press.