WTO intervenes in Havana rum clash
punch-up between Cuban and other makers of rum
The World Trade Organization has, indirectly, intervened in a punch-up between Cuban and other makers of rum. The conflict, between Bermuda-based Bacardi and an international distributor of rums from Cuban distilleries, has lasted for years.
Both Bacardi and the French drinks maker Pernod Ricard insist that they have the rights to the Havana Club trademark. And, bizarrely, they may both be right, depending on which jurisdiction makes the ruling.
Pernod distributes the Cuban version of Havana Rum, through a joint venture with a Cuban state enterprise and in agreement with Fidel Castro whose government had seized privately owned distillers in Cuba after it came to power in 1959.
But Bacardi, which claims it bought the rights to the brand name from the original Cuban owner, Jose Arechabala, in 1997, registered the name in the United States.
There a law was introduced in 1998, banning US courts from enforcing Cuban product brand names owned by companies taken away by their original owners by the Castro government.
The decision angered Fidel Castro who ordered companies seized by his government to produce Bacardi-brand rums for sale abroad, in revenge for its plans to market its own Havana Club rum in the US.
Pernod Ricard was also angered by the US law which essentially made it impossible for the French drinks giant to enforce the trade mark in the US.