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realclearworld

Cuba’s Castro dictatorship planning to sell stolen Havana Club brand rum as ‘Havanista’ in the U.S.

Via Martí News:

Havana Club 7 years will be called “Havanista” in the US

A bottle of rum "Selección de Maestros", one of Havana Club's flagship products is displayed in their distillery in Havana, Cuba. The general manager of the corporation, Jerome Cottin, said during a recent unveiling ceremony that the new rum line, "Havani

It’s nothing but a ploy to register it in the US market, where the Havana Club rum brand legally belongs to Bacardi.

One of Cuba’s official websites, Cubadebate, reported that a new Cuban rum is being launched under the name of “Havanista."

Jerome Cottin, Managing Director of Havana Club International (HCI) revealed during the launching ceremony that the new rum will retain the same characteristics as Havana Club 7 years, for the purpose of being able to register it in the US market.

According to the Cuban official website, “the action was taken to counteract the trade war unleashed by the economic barriers of the blockade imposed by Washington on Cuba since the 1960’s and recently toughened.”

It adds that the US recently disavowed the registration of Cuban rum Havana Club to which the Havana Club Corporation answered with the presentation of Havanista.

Decades of litigation

The Havana Club brand was created in 1934 by José Arechabala and sold world-wide from his family distillery in Cuba.  After the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the distillery and the company was nationalized by the Cuban government and the Arechabala family immigrated to the United States. The family allowed the original registration for the trademark to lapse in 1973.

But in 1994, Bacardi formed an alliance with the Arechabala family and in 1997 Bacardi acquired the residual rights for the Havana Club trademark which, among other things, included the original formula for the rum. In 1995-1996 Bacardi began a trial production of the rum in the Bahamas.

However, the Havana Club brand had been produced by Havana Club International (HCI), a joint venture between the Cuban government and Pernod Ricard, the French company that produces distilled beverages and legal owner of the trademark registered by the Cuban government.  HCI also owned the trademark in the United States thanks to hemispheric agreements.

After more than 10 years of litigation between the parties, on August 3, 2006, US courts denied the Cuban government the renewal of Havana Club registration produced in Cuba and authorized Bacardi to use the trademark Havana Club.  Five days later, Bacardi launched its own version of the rum, made in Puerto Rico.

Since that time, the legal dispute has continued, but Bacardi has won all the cases in the US courts.  Recently, in 2010-2011 another lawsuit followed, alleging consumers were being misled with regards to the geographical location of its Havana Club. An Appeals Court ruled in favor of Bacardi.

Cuba cannot sell rums in the US that it continues to call Havana Club because of the commercial and economic embargo. 

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