GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Travelers from the US to Cuba this year will be able to sample the real Havana Club Cuban rum, but they might not even be aware that the brand sold at home under the same name is a rip-off label brand. IP Watch reports this week that the brand name is sparking what could be a bigger row in World Trade Organization talks in Geneva – finally.
“The dispute at issue is United States – Section 211 Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1998, involving the Havana Club rum trademark. Essentially everywhere in the world but the US, the trademark is owned by a joint venture between Cuba and French company Pernod Ricard. Section 211 prevents them from defending the trademark in US courts. The US measure was found in violation in 2002.”
And yet, says IP Watch, “As it has done for years, the United States today casually reported that there are several pieces of legislation in the US Congress that might bring it into compliance with a longstanding WTO ruling that found it in violation of WTO rules for a 1998 measure blocking a Cuban trademark from receiving due legal process in the US, where a US-friendly firm is using it.”
Cuba says it has had enough of the US not complying. Heavyweights China, Brazil and Mexico are stepping in to back the island’s arguments.
Meanwhile, if you’re in Cuba, you might want to try the real thing and see if it’s worth the fight.