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Battle Over Rights to Havana Club Rum Brand

August 17, 2006|From Bloomberg News

Bacardi Ltd. said Wednesday that it would defend itself vigorously against a lawsuit by Pernod Ricard for the U.S. rights to the Havana Club rum brand, the subject of a 10-year legal battle.

Pernod, the Paris-based maker of Stolichnaya vodka, said Aug. 8 that it would appeal a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruling barring the company from selling the rum in the U.S.

Bacardi said in a statement Wednesday that it had applied to register the brand in its own name. A Cuban government agency had registered the trademark in the U.S. in 1976.

The dispute over the Havana Club rights has drawn in U.S. courts and the World Trade Organization. Pernod sells the rum in 183 countries in a joint venture with Cuba's government, which has used the brand name since seizing the company that originally made the spirit in 1960. Bacardi has said it bought the brand from its family owners in 1996.

Pembroke, Bermuda-based Bacardi, the world's biggest maker of rum, has said it is putting the 80-proof Havana Club on sale in the U.S. this month at a suggested retail price of $19.99 a bottle. The patent office Aug. 3 declared Cuba's U.S. registration of the trademark "canceled/expired," according to the distiller.

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