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Bacardi statement on U.S. government decision granting HAVANA CLUB trademark registration to Cuba

Coral Gables, Fla., January 15, 2016 – “Bacardi is shocked and very concerned by this unprecedented action taken by the United States government. In essence, this administration has reversed long-standing U.S. and international public policy and law that protects against the recognition or acceptance of confiscatory actions of foreign governments.

With this decision, this U.S. administration clearly sends the message that it no longer supports U.S. law and accepted worldwide principles that prevent registration or renewal of trademarks obtained through confiscation, without compensation to the original owners.

Bacardi purchased the rights to the HAVANA CLUB trademark from the creators and original owners – the Arechabala family – who made their rum in Cuba from the 1930s until 1960 and exported it to the U.S. and other countries until their rum-making facilities and personal assets were seized without compensation during the Cuban revolution.

Bacardi has been selling HAVANA CLUB rum in the U.S. since the mid-1990s, except when temporarily suspended to defend litigation brought against it by Cuba’s joint-venture partner, Pernod Ricard. After numerous legal battles, the Cuban government’s illegally obtained U.S. trademark registration for the brand expired in 2006. Also, U.S. courts have consistently ruled that the Cuban joint-venture has no rights to the HAVANA CLUB trademark in the U.S.

Previous U.S. administrations have denied license applications from the Cuban government seeking the rights to maintain Cuba’s illegally obtained U.S. trademark registration for HAVANA CLUB. Without having the appropriate license from the U.S. government, the Cuban government was not able to renew its illegally obtained trademark registration. However, this Administration now has taken actions to allow the Cuban government to attempt to resurrect this dead registration.

Bacardi has been a long-time supporter of trademark rights for legitimate trademark holders. We are committed to defending the fundamental rights against confiscations without compensation. We support both legislation and legal action upholding the principle of protection of trademarks and ensuring trademarks that have been illegally confiscated by the Cuban government without consent of their rightful owners not be recognized by the international community.

Bacardi has and will continue to pursue all the necessary legal actions to defend its position surrounding the legitimacy of Bacardi’s rights and ownership of HAVANA CLUB rum. As we have maintained all along, Bacardi is the legitimate owner of the brand.”