BRUSSELS — The European Union, intervening in a dispute over Havana Club rum, plans to launch a World Trade Organization case against the United States over a U.S. law on trademarks, an EU official said.
The move drags a dispute involving two world-famous drink manufacturers, Bacardi of Puerto Rico and Pernod-Ricard of France, and the Cuban government into the diplomatic arena.
"We have decided we will be filing for consultations in the WTO," a European Commission official said Tuesday, saying the request would be made "in coming days."
Filing for consultations is the first stage in the world trade body's dispute settlement procedure. If talks fail, the plaintiff can ask for a dispute settlement panel to be set up.
The EU objects to Section 211 of last year's U.S. Omnibus Appropriations Act, which says trademarks used in connection with assets confiscated by the Cuban government cannot be registered without the permission of the original owner.
"We want to find an amicable solution with the U.S., but we believe this legislation as it now stands breaks WTO rules," the commission official said.
Havana Club Holdings, a joint venture formed in 1993 by Pernod-Ricard and a Cuban state company, filed a trademark infringement suit in a U.S. federal court in 1996 over Bacardi's use of the Havana Club trademark in the United States.
The court earlier this year blocked the claim, citing Section 211.