In a move that could reverse decades of how Havana Club rum is sold in this country, The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded the brand’s trademark registration to the Cuban government.
Havana Club is Cuba’s most famous rum brand. It is also at the center of a long-running rum battle in America.
When Havana Club’s founding family fled from Cuba in 1960 — after Cuba’s government seized the brand — Bacardi acquired control of the trademark rights. Bacardi has been selling a Puerto Rican-made rum, based on the original Cuban recipe, in the U.S. under the Havana Club name since 1994.
Pernod Ricard and the Cuban government, together, have been selling their Havana Club rum outside America. With the trademark rights newly acquired, they believe they could start selling the real rum under its a brand name in this country as soon as the U.S. embargo is officially lifted.
Those two entities are seeking a 10-year trademark extension, after receiving an initial extension through Jan. 27, 2016.
They claim that the brand’s founding family abandoned the brand name when they failed to renew it in 1973. Cuba took ownership of the trademark three years later, and joined up with Pernod Ricard in 1993. They sell about 4 million 9-liter cases of Havana Club outside the U.S. a year.
Bacardi plans to contest the decision. In a statement recently release, they claim that the founding family did not outright abandon their trademark rights, but sold them legally to Bacardi.