Thursday, June 16, 2016

Re-Opening of United States Market to Cuba Rum Rekindles Name Dispute

As I wrote a while back,  there was a potential dispute reemerging between Bacardi, Ltd and Pernod Ricard SA over the ownership of the name, Havana Club.  The dispute is not new.  Pernod Ricard is a distiller based in Paris, France who entered into a joint venture with the Cuban government to create Havana Club International.  To hear Pernod Ricard tell it, it entered into a deal with the Cuban government in 1993 which gave it rights to sell the Cuban-made rum around the world, including the United States.  However, the 1962 trade embargo blocked any such sales.

Bacardi counters that it owns the rights to the brand after buying it from the founding family of Havana Club, the Arechabalas.  The Arechabalas and Bacardi fled Cuba in 1960 after Fidel Castro's government nationalized the country's distilleries.  Bacardi has been making its rum in Puerto Rico under the Havana Club brand name.  Initially, the two sides worked together until Bacardi decided to compete with Pernod Ricard by distilling its rum in Puerto Rico in the early 1990's.

Now, both sides are ramping up their production to distribute their rums in the United States.  In the case of Bacardi, to increase its distribution and in the case of Pernod Ricard, to enter the market.

Needless to say, the two sides will have their day in court over who actually owns the trademark.  Stay tuned for updates.