Rum, Another Point of Discord Between Cuba and U.S.

Cuba refuses to give up on one of the many “battles” with the United States: Havana Club rum, the subject of a dispute over the marketing of that brand in the U.S. rate.

Given the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to deny the Cuban Cubaexport and France’s Pernod Ricard renewal of the right to sell the rum in the U.S., Cuba has warned Washington that this attitude “disrespectful “endangers the 6,000 U.S. patents and trademarks that are traded on the island.

In addition, Havana says have a “plan B” to sell its rum in the U.S. with “Habanista”, a brand that, according to representatives of French-Cuban group Havana Club International and the Government itself will become the new commercial option there to defend the Cuban product after a legal process that has transcended politics.

One example is that the Government of Cuba has given the contentious nature of “official business”.

Last May, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the opportunity to the French company Pernod Ricard to renew the Havana Club had record there since 1976.

The proceedings of the company Pernod Ricard and Cubaexport, participants in society Havana Club International since 1993, began in 2006 when the Treasury Department did not renew the business license to the French company.

The reason for this decision was a 1998 law that prohibited the renewal of certain Cuban trademarks associated with property nationalized after the revolution of 1959 and, according to Havana, was approved by maneuvers of the “Cuban mafia in Miami” and the Bacardi.

As an international distributor of Havana Club, Pernod Ricard and Bacardi had struggled with since 1994 when the Puerto Rican company applied for a permit to the U.S. authorities to register the same mark.

Later, in 2010, a court ruling dismissed the claim of the French and allowed the marketing Bacardi USA Havana Club rum.

Arechabala family, who created the rum in 1935 and then sold the rights to Bacardi, the alcoholic beverage had been exported to the U.S. until 1960 the Cuban government nationalized the plant and the brand.

Yesterday, the legal director of Havana Club International SA, Olivia Lagache, said in a video conference between Havana and Paris now the group is studying “possible actions” after the verdict last May.

However, Lagache said that the ruling has no impact on the overall strategy of Havana Club, which in 2011 sold about four million cases in over 120 countries and according to its managers is the second best-selling rum brand in the world, except to the U.S..

For its part, the Cuban government accuses Washington of “stealing” the mark of violating international conventions and rules of the World Trade Organization, and has suggested it will not stay idle.

The Cuban Foreign Ministry says it sent in the last two years, “an important group of diplomatic notes to the U.S. authorities inquiring about the inscription” Havana Club, noting the responsibilities of the Department of State and the Treasury in the outcome of the litigation.

Cuba says “keep fighting” with Pernod Ricard to denounce the “arbitrariness” committed against the mark and reserves the right to “undertake all actions and measures we deem appropriate at any given time.”

As a background to the whole problem is the fact that even with a trademark registration enabled, Cuba could not market Havana Club in the U.S. due to economic blockade that Washington applies to Havana for half a century, making every effort to a battle for the future.

“If the question were of brands, trademarks and brands we have”, they said on Tuesday responsible for Cubaexport, before referring to “Habanista”, the new commitment of the company for the U.S. market on a stage without blocking.

The new brand is designed with the same bottle, the same rum and equal range of products the classic Havana Club, and has just been recorded this year in the U.S..

“When the lockout ends, we’ll sell ‘Habanista’ in the U.S.. We are ready to do that,” said today the CEO of the joint venture Havana Club International, Jerome Cottin-Bizzone.