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Friday, July 27, 2012
Cuba denounces U.S. over brand infringement at World Trade Organization
Geneva, July 27.- Cuba on Thursday denounced the United States to the General Council of the World Trade Organization over the usurpation of its Havana Club rum brand, saying it is a serious violation of U.S. and international laws protecting brands and trademarks.
Cuban charge d'affaires to the international organization based in the Swiss city of Geneva, Nancy Madrigal, recalled that in 1976, state-owned Cubaexport registered the Havana Club name in the United States, in compliance with the procedures established by the U.S. Office for Trademarks and Patents.
However, in 2006 the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury Department denied Cubaexport the license to renew the name’s ownership.
After years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme court upheld the Treasury Department's decision, which according to the Cuban diplomat,legitimizes the application of a measure that violates the international commitments on the protection of industrial property.
Madrigal also added that the U.S.not only snatches Cuba’s rights over the trademark, but also covers the illegitimate use of it by the Bacardi company, which labels its products in the United States market with the Havana Club name.
The Havana Club brand was created in Cuba in 1878, by José Arechabala. After the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the distillery and company was nationalized by the Cuban government; subsequently, the Arechabala family left for Spain, then emigrated to the United States. Since 1994 it has been produced by Havana Club International, a 50:50 joint venture between Pernod Ricard and the Cuban government.
The U.S.trade embargo against Cuba prevents the island nation from selling its goods in U.S.territory. Cuban authorities registered the Havana Club name in the United States in 1976, hoping the blockade would end soon. (RHC).