Updated 03:55 PM EDT, Wed, Oct 28, 2020

Cuba at Odds with Booze Conglomerates as Diplomatic US Relations Continue to Thaw

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The thawing diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba have resulted to a global intellectual-property dispute concerning booze conglomerates, Pernod Ricard and Bacardi.

The row between the two firms originated in the Cuban revolution in the 1950s, according to Quartz.

On Monday, Bacardi issued a Freedom of Information Act request urging the U.S. government to explain its decision to remove the company's right to the Havana Club trademark, Reuters reported. Last January, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office gave permission to Cuban state firm Cubaexport to register the Havana Club name once again in the U.S.

Bacardi's request sought to have access to all records concerning the Havana Club trademark decision held by the executive office of President Barack Obama, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the State Department, the National Security Council, the Treasury Department, or any other offices, the news outlet listed.

"The American people have the right to know the truth of how and why this unprecedented, sudden and silent action was taken by the United States government to reverse long-standing U.S. and international public policy and law," Eduardo Sanchez, senior vice president and general counsel of Bacardi, said in a statement quoted in Reuters' report.

The U.S. government's decision allowed Cubaexport and its French partner, Pernod Ricard, to sell the Havana Club rum brand in the U.S. and be locked in a direct competition with Bacardi's products, the news outlet added.

Pernod Ricard, the world's second largest spirits company, markets the Havana Club brand around the world on behalf of Cuba -- except in the U.S., where Bacardi has the trademark, Quartz further reported. Bacardi believes it has the full rights for the name, which it purchased from the Arechabala family.

Cuba cannot sell its rum in the U.S. because of the trade embargo on the island, Reuters noted. However, the recent improvement in the two countries' diplomatic relations raised Cuba's hopes of gaining access to the globe's largest rum market.

The Bermuda-based Bacardi left Cuba after the 1959 revolution, Reuters wrote. After the move, the firm acquired the rights to the Havana Club name from its pre-revolutionary owner whose distillery was nationalized.

Quartz wrote that it will be unclear how Cuba "would survive a legal challenge under section 211" if they attempt to regain ownership of the brand name because it would invalidate the trademarks linked to seized Cuban firms. It's also possible that the law would settle claims dating back to the Cuban revolution and "potentially revoke section 211, which would dramatically change the French company's odds in court," the news outlet added.

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