Bacardi vows to fight Spanish court ruling

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Drinks maker Bacardi vowed Friday to fight a Spanish court decision in favour of its French rival Pernod Ricard in a long-running dispute over the use of the Havana Club brand in Spain.

Bacardi said it was "disappointed" that Spain's supreme court on Thursday rejected its claims over the brand "on the legal technicality of a statute of limitations".

"Bacardi has and will continue to defend its position in the wake of ongoing and inaccurate allegations by Havana Club Holdings surrounding the legitimacy of Bacardi's rights and ownership of Havana Club rum," it said in a statement.

The Bermuda-based company said it planned "new legal avenues," but gave no details.

Pernod Ricard said in a statement Thursday that Spain's supreme court confirmed that the company Havana Club, a joint venture involving the French group and the Cuba's state-owned Cuba Ron, "holds the rights to the Havana Club brand in Spain."

The Havana Club trademark was first used by the Arechabala family whose company was nationalised by Cuba in 1960 following the revolution led by Fidel Castro.

Cubaexport, a Cuban government agency, then assigned the trademark to the Pernod joint venture in 1993.

Bacardi claims that the move by the Cuban government was illegal. Unlike the rum sold by Pernod, Bacardi's rum is made in Puerto Rico.

"Bacardi legally owns the rights to the Spanish Havana Club rum brand, having purchased the trademark from the original legal owners, creators and proprietors of the brand," Friday's Bacardi statement said.

A separate but similar dispute in the United States involves Pernod and Bacardi, which markets Havana Club in that country.

A US court in April last year allowed Bacardi to keep using the Havana Club name for its rum distilled in Puerto Rico, but Pernod has appealed.

© 2011 AFP

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