Almost 20 years were necessary so that Cuba was given the right to use the Havana Club trademark, a distinguished rum of Cuba Ron Corporation SA, in the United States. The legal dispute over the global distribution of rum came to an end a few days ago in the Patent and Trademark office of northern country.
There, the legality of Havana Club was ratified as property of CUBAEXPORT company, the counterpart on the Island of French spirits maker Pernod Ricard, international distributor of the beverage. Attorney David Bernstein, defender of the Cuban company in New York, received the good news that it had been allowed to renew the registration of the trademark in the United States.
The battle between the Cuban company and the transnational Bacardi Limited, established in Bermuda, originated in 1998 when the Section 211 of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, known as Section 211- was issued, which empowered the Bacardi-Martini group to market drinks with names of Havana Club and Ron Matusalén. Thus, it broke rules on intellectual property agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.
Although 13 years ago the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the WTO, spoke with resolutions against Section 211, the legislation continued unchanged. The issue remained the same some way when in 2012 the Supreme Court declared that it was not suitable to examine the matter.
However, Cubaexport did not remain idle. The case returned to the trademark office due to the demand of the Cuban part stating that the registration could not be revoked and that it still would not be moved as long as the blockade is active.
In the interest of renewing and maintaining the registration of the Havana Club trademark, Cubaexport applied on Tuesday to a license from OFAC to pay their registration fees. The request was accepted, however, it will only be valid until January 27, the date to which it adheres, for the period of ten years dating back to 2006, when the attempt by Cubaexport to re-register was rejected.
As Olivier Cavil, a spokesman for Pernod Ricard, told the media, Havana Club was presented to be registered as a trademark by another decade. While the information is positive, Cavil remarked that "it is not too significant. No impact on business at all, because the embargo remains active. "
The blockade hits directly despite the news, because Cuba is still prohibited to market its products on US territory. The economic measure imposed for more than 50 years to the Cuban nation prohibits most financial transactions with the island unless they are authorized by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department (OFAC) of the US government.