Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Babaloo! Havana Club v. Havana Club Rum Battle Invades Delaware Courts

In this (at least to me) confusing fight between two giant liquor importers, the dispute is which rum should be able to sport the name "Havana Club" -- the Havana Club (marketed by Pernod Ricard USA, who sells of Chivas Regal and Beefeater gin) which is actually made in Cuba or the Havana Club marketed by Bacardi, which is made from an old Cuban recipe from the 1930's, but which is actually made in Puerto Rico.

What makes the story even more interesting is that, at least according to Bacardi, rum based on the Bacardi recipe was developed by a family-owned Cuban company, Jose Arechabala SA, but that Castro's government seized the plant and the trademark and started producing rum on its own under the Havana Club label (though, according to Bacardi, under a different recipe). In fact, Cuba obtained a registration for the mark in the US (although the USPTO has recently refused to renew it. Cuba then hooked up with Pernod Ricard and gave them the right to sell the rum around the world (except for the US, of course, because of the embargo).

Pernod has sued (in Delaware) to stop Bacardi from using the name Havana Club, claiming that it is misleading consumers into thinking that the rum is made in Cuba. Bacardi, for its part, is evidently going to try to stop Pernod from distributing Havana Club in the US if the embargo is lifted.

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