The apparently never-ending fight over the trademark for “Havana Club” rum made a detour through the Office of Foreign Assets Control and into the Federal District Courtroom of Judge Royce Lamberth. At issue was an OFAC decision that effectively denied the renewal of the registration of the “Havana Club” trademark in the United States.
Judge Lamberth’s decision, released last Thursday, had something for everyone. For the Cuban side his order required that OFAC provide more documentation of why it appeared to have held that the general license for transactions in connection with Cuban trademark renewals wasn’t applicable. For the OFAC-Bacardi side, Judge Lamberth held that OFAC licensing decisions were immune from judicial review (which, no doubt, led to much rejoicing and merriment, perhaps even some dancing, in the halls of OFAC).
For those of you who haven’t followed the peregrinations of the struggle between Bacardi and Pernod-Ricard over the Havana Club rum trademark (and I assume that’s almost everyone), here is a short “Havana Club for Rummies.” Pernod-Ricard bases its claim to the trademark based on a transfer by Cubaexport of the trademark to Havana Club Holdings SA (”HCH), a joint-venture between the Cubans and Pernod-Ricard. Bacardi bases its claim to the trademark on a purchase of the rights to trademark from the exiled members of the Arechabala family. The Arechabalas had produced Havana Club in Cuba until their distilleries were seized by Castro in the 1960s.
Read the rest of the story here.