Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Time and again, U.S. courts have ruled against Cuba in its fight to control the U.S. rights to the trademark Havana Club, the island's flagship rum brand that is sold in more than 120 countries around the world - but not in the United States.
By mid-June, Cuba could lose all chance of pressing its legal claims against Bacardi, which distributes a limited quantity of its own Havana Club rum in Florida and says it plans to expand to other states.
Indignant over what it considers wholesale piracy of a national symbol, Cuba accuses the United States of using an under-the-radar maneuver to block Cuba from paying the small trademark-renewal fee, and has raised its concerns at increasingly high levels of government. If the trademark expires, Cuba says, it could retaliate on U.S. trademarks currently protected on the island.
Although the U.S. sanctions prevent Cuba from marketing Havana Club in the United States, the island has held the trademark there since 1976 after the Cuban family that originally owned the brand let their registration lapse.
But since it came time to renew in 2006, Cuba says, it has been unable to do so because the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces the embargo against the island, has not issued a license for Havana to make the $200 renewal payment.
Cuba sued the U.S. government, but lost. And when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the ruling on May 14, a 30-day countdown began after which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office can cancel the trademark.
That means that as soon as June 13, Cuba's claim to the name could expire, and with it the island's best hope of continuing its legal battle.
JG: The capitalists are gloating. One more instance of how U.S. capitalists engage in legalized theft. And then they wonder why the rest of the civilized world hates them.