US: Bacardi victory as judge dismisses Havana Club appeal

31 March, 2009

US: An appeal from Cuba over the termination of Havana Club’s US trademark rights has been dismissed by a judge.

US: An appeal from Cuba over the termination of Havana Club’s US trademark rights has been dismissed by a judge.

Cuba’s state-owned export outfit Cubaexport was appealing a decision made in 2006, in which the US Patent and Trademark Office declared the registration of Havana Club cancelled/expired. A judge has upheld the decision.

This is the latest in a dispute between Havana Club and Bacardi that has spanned more than a decade. Bacardi does sell a product in the US called Havana Club. 

Cubaexport and Pernod Ricard are a joint venture – Havana Club International – which allows the product to be sold globally, though the product is not available in the US because of the embargo.

Bacardi spokeswoman Patricia M. Neal  said:

"Bacardi commends the US District Court for following US law and worldwide principles that prevent registration or renewal of trademarks obtained through confiscation, without compensation to the original owners. It is important to note that US courts have consistently ruled that the Cuban-French venture has "no rights" to the trademark."

''This is a very significant ruling and a watershed moment in a more than 10-year dispute."

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia’s conclusion read:

“No reasonable trier of fact could find that the defendants violated the plaintiff’s rights—if any—to procedural due process, substantive due process, or under the Takings Clause."

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