March 2016 - Rum in the News


After awarding the U.S. trademark for Havana Club rum to Pernod Ricard and Cubaexport in a surprise move last month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has officially renewed the trademark through January 27, 2026. The latest decision allows Cubaexport to sell Cuban-made Havana Club in the U.S. if the economic embargo on Cuba is lifted. With the U.S. and Cuba re-establishing relations in late 2014, the removal of the embargo appears likely to occur in the coming years. In a statement on their corporate website, Bacardi explains that as part of continued efforts to defend the legitimacy of its rights and ownership of Havana Club rum, Bacardi has requested the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) to reverse its decision to grant the Cuba government a license to renew and maintain the Havana Club trademark registration in the United States. In its submission to OFAC, regarding License No. CU-2015-323837-1 (“License 837-1”), Bacardi explains that it – not the Cuban government – is the current and lawful owner of all rights and claims related to the Havana Club trademark in the United States. That mark was used in conjunction with the Havana Club rum business by the original owner, Jose Arechabala S.A. (“JASA”), which founded the company in 1878 in Cuba. JASA sold Havana Club rum in the United States after the brand was created in 1934 until the business was forcibly confiscated by the Cuban government in 1960. Bacardi obtained its ownership interest in the Havana Club mark through a lawful and OFAC licensed transaction with JASA. Bacardi has been selling Havana Club rum in the United States since the mid-1990s.