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Bacardi mounts new campaign in Cuba rum war

Drinks giant Bacardi has launched a fresh salvo in a rum war with Cuba.

For Bacardi is to mount a major marketing push for its Havana Club brand — a trademark whose ownership is disputed with the Communist regime in Cuba.

The trademark originally belonged to Cuban rum-makers Jose Arechabala, whose family company was seized and nationalised after the Fidel Castro-led revolution in 1959.

The family left Cuba, stopped producing rum and allowed the US trademark to lapse in 1973.

The Cuban government registered the trademark in the US in 1976 and it was assigned to French partners Pernod-Ricard in 1993.

Since 1994, Cuban Havana Club has been sold around the world — but not in the US.

Bermudian-based Bacardi obtained the Arechabala family's remaining rights in the brand in 1994 and began selling limited amounts of Havana Club in the US, which sparked a legal battle with Pernod Ricard, which was successful in two of the first three court decisions in the matter.

After further legal battles, the Cuban government's US trademark registration expired in 2006.

But in January, the US government gave the Cuban government rights to the Havana Club name — a decision Bacardi insists should be reversed.

Fabio Di Giammarco, the global vice president of rums at Bacardi, said: “This is the ultimate convergence of two Cuban families in exile coming together to continue the legacy of this incredible brand and introduce it to a new generation.”

He added: “It is an honour that the Arechabala family has entrusted us to continue their family's legacy and have no doubt that we'll be able to bring to life all the things that make it a legendary brand.”

Bacardi maintains that the renewal breaches a 1998 Act of the US Congress designed to protect trademarks taken over by Cuba after the revolution which deposed dictator Fulgencio Batista.

The company told a US House of Representatives committee in February that the approval had been granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office after “years of inactivity” within 48 hours.

The Havana Club national launch by Bacardi, which includes new bottle packaging and the introduction of a dark rum variant, Havana Club Anejo Clasico, which was launched in Florida yesterday.

The rum will be introduced across the country over the summer.

Jose Arechabala, great-grandson of the brand's founder, said: “Our family could not be happier that Bacardi is launching Havana Club Anejo Clasico, which is based on the original recipe created by the Arechabala family in 1934 and made in Puerto Rico, to be sold alongside the existing Havana Club Anejo Blanco.

“Our families knew each other before we were both exiled from Cuba and with Bacardi being the premier rum company in the world, it's only fitting that they continue our legacy by paying proper homage to the capital city of Cuba, a place we once called home.”

The brand will be launched with a new campaign “The Golden Age, Aged Well”, which evokes the glamour of pre-revolution Cuba, and includes the slogan “Even A Revolution Couldn't Topple the Rum”.

Bacardi: global beverage giant has Cuban roots

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Published June 02, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated June 01, 2016 at 10:47 pm)

Bacardi mounts new campaign in Cuba rum war

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