Companies put a lot of thought into product brands and names, but what happens when two companies use the same name?
That’s the case with France-based Pernod Ricard SA and U.S.-based Bacardi, which both produce Havana Club rum.
Meanwhile, cigar brands such as Cohiba and Partagas are both manufactured by two separate companies — Cuba-based Habanos SA and U.S.-based General Cigar Company.
Pernod Ricard produces the Havana Club that is manufactured in Cuba, while Bacardi manufactures its version in Puerto Rico.
Havana Club was originally created by the Arechabala family in Cuba in the 1930s, but the family assets were confiscated in 1960 after the Cuban revolution.
Pernod has been using the Havana Club brand since 1993, when it formed Havana Club International, a joint venture with the Cuban state company Cubaexport.
Meanwhile, Bacardi acquired the rights to the Havana Club name from the Arechabala family (in exile in the United States) and applied for a U.S. trademark of the brand in 1994. That application had been opposed legally by Pernod.
While Pernod successfully sold Havana Club in Cuba and internationally — boosting sales from 400,000 cases in 1993 to 3.5 million cases today, according to Bloomberg — Bacardi in 2006 launched the Havana Club brand on the U.S. market.
Thanks to the U.S. embargo against Cuba, no Cuban-made products can be sold in the United States. However, Pernod argued that the launch of the second Havana Club brand would confuse consumers and violate its trademark.
In August, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Bacardi that there would not be any confusion.
Although Cubaexport registered the Havana Club trademark in the United States in 1976, the U.S. Congress in 1988 made trademarks confiscated by the Cuban government unenforceable in the United States.
Meanwhile, cigars — often used in conjunction with rum — are facing their own trademark confusion. Cohiba and Partagas are manufactured in Cuba by Habanos SA, a joint venture between state company Cubatabaco and French-Spanish tobacco giant Altadis. They also are manufactured in the Dominican Republic by U.S.-based General Cigar Company (a unit of Swedish Match).
A third brand — Montecristo — is manufactured both in Cuba (by Habanos SA) and in the Dominican Republic (by Altadis itself), thus allowing the latter version to be sold in the United States.
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