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Bacardi Cries Foul over Havana Club License Granted to Cuba

By: PanAm Post Staff - Feb 19, 2016, 6:15 am
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While the Cuban government sold millions of Havana Club cases across the world, in the United States only Bacardi was authorized to sell the brand. (Bio Bio)

EspañolBacardi, one of Latin America’s most famous spirits producers, has formally requested the United States to revoke a licence that it granted the Cuban government to sell the Havana Club rum on US soil.

The permit, issued in December 2015, gives Cuba the rights over Havana Club at the US Patents and Trademark Office (USPTO), which will allow it to sell the famed rum in the United States once the commercial embargo between both countries is lifted.

In 1960, the Cuban government confiscated the José Arechabala company, the producer of Havana Club. Bacardi assures that it bought the brand’s rights from its rightful owners, the Arechabala family.

Bacardi claims it is the sole proprietor of the Havana Club trademark in the United States and it has requested that the US Treasury revoke the license, as it clashes with previous rulings of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

Furthermore, the Bermuda-based firm assures that the permit goes against the US government’s practice of not acknowledging confiscated trademarks or firms.

“None of the recently announced policy changes toward Cuba remotely suggest that the United States should set aside well-established law and ignore the Congressional mandate of Section 211 to protect the rights of confiscated property owners and their successors,” Bacardi said in a statement.

The firm’s standoff with the Cuban regime goes back to the time when the rum was produced on the island, but it abandoned the country in 1959 when Fidel Castro came to power.

In January 2016, the USPTO ruled that the Cuban state-owned firm Cubaexport is the rightful owner of the rum, reversing a string of judicial victories by Barcadi.

Created in 1862, Bacardi is the largest privately held spirits maker in the world and produces Havana Club in Puerto Rico.

Every year, the Cuban government sells millions of Havana Club cases to over 100 countries except the United States through a joint venture with Pernod Ricard, the french beverage manufacturer.

Sources: 14 y medio; El Nuevo Herald.