LONDON (Brand Republic) - Ownership of the disputed Cuban rum trademark “Havana Club” has flared up again as the EU opens a World Trade Organisation case against the US over who owns the name.
The EU has asked the WTO to override a US law blocking French company Pernod Ricard from suing Bacardi over the use of the brand in the States.
The legal wrangle began in 1996 when Havana Club Holdings -- a joint venture between Pernod Ricard and a Cuban company -- filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Bacardi, which was using the Havana Club name in the US.
A US court, however, blocked the lawsuit, saying that under US law the trademark could not be registered in the US because it originally belonged to a Cuban family whose assets were confiscated by Castro’s government in 1959.
The EU claims that the US is violating international trademark rules. The WTO is to deal with the EU’s request on July 27.