Cuba and US Decade-Old Rum Battle

A bitter dispute over a sweet-tasting spirit appears to be nearing an endgame after more than a decade of legal wrangling.

Time and again, United States (US) courts have ruled against Cuba in its fight to control the US rights to the trademark Havana Club, the island’s flagship rum brand that is sold in more than 120 countries around the world – but not in the US.

By mid-June, Cuba could lose all chance of pressing its legal claims against Bacardi, which distributes a limited quantity of its own HavanaClub rum in Florida and says it plans to expand to other US states in the near future.

Indignant over what it considers wholesale piracy of a national icon, Cuba accuses the US of using an under-the-radar manoeuvre to block Cuba from paying the small trademark renewal fee, and has raised its concerns at increasingly high levels of government.

If the trademark expires, Cuba says it could retaliate on US trademarks currently protected on the island.

“The United States’ disrespectful attitude in divesting the legitimateCuban owners of the Havana Club brand can put at risk the brand and patent rights of American companies in our country,” Maria de los Angeles Sanchez, director of Cuba’s office of intellectual property, said Tuesday.

“Cuba reserves the right as a sovereign nation to act at the appropriate moment.”

Such retaliation might have limited immediate impact, as most US goods are barred from being sold to the island under the 50-year-old USembargo.

However, there are some legal sales of food items, and companies could also face tough and costly legal battles to win back their trademark rights in a post-embargo Cuba.      Read More           (TheGleanerAP) 

FloridaLatinConnection/  Varona 

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