Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Rum War with Cuba Warming Up

     Will the hostilities between the US and Cuba ever go away?    We have had more confrontations with this country 90 miles to my south and still nothing seems to ever get solved.     Today we have a bitter dispute over the cane spirit and the trademark "Havana Club", the country's flagship rum that is sold in over 120 countries world wide, but not in the United States.   The 50 year-old embargo the US has imposed on goods that are produced in Cuba is the reason for the exclusion of Cuban Havana Club Rum.  

     Cuba stands to lose all chance of a legal claim against Bacardi who distributes a limited quantity of it's version of "Havana Club" in  Florida, with plans to expand into other states soon.   Cuba has owned the trademarking the United States since 1976 after the family that originally owned the brand let the registration elapse.   The renewal for the trademark came up in 2006, and the treasury department  who enforces the embargo refuses the renewal payment.     Cuba has sued the US Government and lost.  The Supreme Court declined to review the ruling on May 14th.   The 30 day countdown for the patent office to cancel the trademark began.   June 13th is the day that Cuba's claim to the "Havana Club" name will expire.   Pernod Ricard the partner that distributes "Havana Club" world wide vows that the battle isn't over.  "We will still fight to keep this trademark alive" according to Olivia Lagache, general counsel for "Havana Club".

     The US is a very lucrative market, having some 40% of the world's rum drinkers, that would most likely jump at the chance to enjoy this mystical rum that has been made into a holy grail of rums because of the fact that it has been banned in the US for 50 years.

    No matter what the outcome of the trademark battle, the real losers in this war are the Americans that enjoy fine rum and are banned by the same government that allows trade with Russia, China, Korea, and Vietnam, countries that gave us a lot more grief that the tiny country of Cuba has ever given us.    I guess that we need to think about why is this such a problem for our government when the people of the United States would really like to travel to Cuba and enjoy their rum.   ;o(