CubaBrief: Bacardi sues the US Patent and Trademark Office in defense of a fundamental human right

Bacardi is suing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for violating “the law by reviving a Cuban government entity’s ‘Havana Club’ trademark, which Bacardi uses on American rum, according to Reuters.” The reporting by Reuters generally gives too much of a benefit of the doubt to the Castro regime, and drew the critical attention of the conservative NGO, Accuracy in Media in 2021.

The lawsuit was filed on December 28, 2021 in Virginia federal court. It is part of an ongoing battle between Bacardi and the Castro dictatorship over the “Havana Club” name, which was unlawfully taken along with the assets of Cuban company Jose Arechabala SA by the Castro regime in 1960. It had been, like Bacardi, a family business founded in 1878 and seized at gunpoint by the Castro regime on January 1, 1960. Mr. Ramon Arechabala, a former executive of the company who was present during the seizure in 1960, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on how the company was taken on July 13, 2004. Here is an excerpt of that testimony.

“Mr. Chairman, good afternoon, my name is Ramón Arechabala. I am here today to testify in support of S. 2373. My life was changed forever on New Year’s Day 1960 when the Castro government took over the rum business that my family founded in 1878. The revolutionary regime called it intervention. They promised us we would eventually be paid, but we never got a red cent.

The simple truth is our property was stolen.I am a Cuban American and U.S. citizen. My family moved to Cuba from Spain when I was a boy. My father went to work for our family company, Jose Arechabala, S.A. (JASA), in Cardenas, Cuba, which made fine rums sold under the ARECHABALA and HAVANA CLUB brands. We exported HAVANA CLUB rum that was made by JASA according to a secret family formula to the U.S. and elsewhere. JASA began selling HAVANA CLUB rum in the U.S. in the early 1930’s. I believe that the HAVANA CLUB mark, at one time, was registered in the United States, Spain, Cuba and other countries. My cousin, Javier Arechabla, the company’s lawyer, took care of those things. After the Bay of Pigs, Javier was thrown in jail on trumped up charges and did not get out for many years.

I worked as a sales manager at JASA after I got out of school. Special forces led by Calixto Lopez broke into JASA’s offices and seized the company on December 31, 1959. Calixto pointed a machine gun at me and said from now on he was “Pepe.” Pepe is my uncle who has since moved to Spain. He was JASA’s President then. Calixto meant he was now the boss. All JASA’s books and records were seized. My brother, Jose Miguel, who also worked at JASA, and I were searched when we left to make sure we did not sneak out any important papers. As soon as I could, I telephoned my uncle and other family members who were in the U.S. and Spain for the Christmas holidays to let them know what had happened and to tell them not to return to Cuba. I was afraid that if they returned, they would be tossed in jail.

The next day I went back to work. Lopez and his cronies knew nothing about making rum. He even gave away the oak barrels used to age the rum. For several months I stayed at JASA without pay, but Lopez didn’t want me there. I had to leave.”

For the 15th straight year, democracy and human rights continued to backslide across the world in 2021, and part of the problem is that people, who should know better, made small moral compromises with gross human rights violators in the mistaken belief that the ends justify the means. Western democracies violated human rights in pursuit of a rapprochement with the Castro regime in Cuba, claiming that it would advance human rights in the long term. They achieved the opposite result. The late Czech president, dissident, and playwright, Václav Havel, addressing the Forum 2000 in Prague on October 12, 2009, gave an equivalent example of this practice on the world stage:

“I believe that when the new Laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize postpones receiving the Dalai Lama until after he has accomplished his visit to China, he makes a small compromise, a compromise which actually has some logic to it. However, there arises a question as to whether those large, serious compromises do not have their origin and roots in precisely these tiny and very often more or less logical compromises.

Property rights are human rights. Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.”

Bacardi is intrinsically linked to Cuba with a shared history that stretches back to the company’s founding in 1862, the struggle for Cuban national independence, and resistance to all of Cuba’s dictatorships combined with a strong sense of environmental stewardship, decent treatment of its workers, and civic engagement. Bacardi’s story was told by NPR correspondent Tom Gjelten in his well-received book Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba, and is now in development to become a television series.

Each time dictatorship arose in Cuba under Machado, Batista and the Castros, the Bacardis joined the democratic resistance. They recognized the work of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and in 2017 that of his daughter, Rosa María Payá, and supported the Cuba Decide initiative to push for a democratic transition, the work of the Center, and many other Cuban pro-democracy organizations.

Bacardi continues this tradition in its battle for private property rights, defending the Arechabala family’s Havana Club trademark from the predations of the Castro regime.

” According to Bacardi’s complaint, Cubaexport tried to renew the registration of the “Havana Club” trademark in the U.S., which it originally registered in 1976, in 2006, but failed to get a license from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Bacardi claims that Cubaexport’s trademark should have expired six months after failing to receive a license, according to federal law. Instead, the Patents and Trademark Office renewed the registration in 2016, soon after the Office of Foreign Assets Control gave it a license.”

This was in the midst of the attempt to normalize relations with the Cuban dictatorship, and rather than helping Cubans, this action legitimized the illegal seizure of property that is now being fought in a U.S. federal court. The failure to hold Havana accountable on this small matter may have been another factor that led them to believe that they could allow American and Canadian diplomats to be harmed in Cuba beginning in 2016.

The Indian independence leader, Mohandas Gandhi, criticized the maxim that the ends justify the means. While arguing that means are foreseeable, ends are not, “If one takes care of the means, the end will take care of itself.” This has been seen repeatedly in the case of Cuba.

Whiskey Raiders, December 30, 2021

Bacardi Sues US Patent and Trademark Office Over Prolific ‘Havana Club’ Trademark

David Morrow

Dec 30th, 2021

A bartender prepares a drink with Bacardi’s Havana Club Rum on April 3, 2018, in New York City. (Photo: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Spirits giant Bacardi is suing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which the company claims violated the law by reviving a Cuban government entity’s “Havana Club” trademark, which Bacardi uses on American rum, according to Reuters.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Virginia federal court and is part of an ongoing battle between Bacardi and Cuba over the “Havana Club” name, which Bacardi claims was unlawfully taken along with the assets of Cuban company Jose Arechabala SA by the Fidel Castro regime in 1960.

According to the complaint, Bacardi started selling Havana Club rum in the U.S. in 1995 after buying the brand from Jose Arechabala SA. Cuban company Cubaexport and French company Pernod Ricard both sell rum under the same name in other countries but are barred from selling it in the U.S.

According to Bacardi’s complaint, Cubaexport tried to renew the registration of the “Havana Club” trademark in the U.S., which it originally registered in 1976, in 2006, but failed to get a license from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Bacardi claims that Cubaexport’s trademark should have expired six months after failing to receive a license, according to federal law. Instead, the Patents and Trademark Office renewed the registration in 2016, soon after the Office of Foreign Assets Control gave it a license.

Bacardi is best known for its Bacardi rum, but the company also owns many other spirits brands, including Grey Goose vodka, Patrón tequila, Dewar’s scotch whisky, Teeling Irish whiskey and Bombay gin.

The renewal “some ten years after the registration had expired is a moral outrage to be sure, but also violates the law and must be set aside,” Bacardi said in its complaint, noting that the company’s own “Havana Club” trademark registration will likely be refused as a result of Cubaexport’s successful registration.

https://whiskeyraiders.com/american/bacardi-sues-us-patent-trademark-office-havana-club/

Businesswire, December 16, 2021

It’s Official! Bacardi is One of the World’s Best Employers

Bacardi toasts to being part of Forbes’ list of ‘World’s Best Employers’ in 2021

HAMILTON, Bermuda–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As the year comes to a close, Bacardi Limited, the world’s largest privately held spirits company, is rounding it off in celebration. Bacardi has been recognized on Forbes‘ list of the ‘World’s Best Employers’ for 2021, based on independent surveys conducted in more than 55 countries worldwide. Employees rated Bacardi on image, trust, corporate social responsibility, and culture, all fundamental to the way the company has operated for close to 160 years.

Bacardi has been family-owned for seven generations and employs more than 8,000 people globally. “At Bacardi, our top priority, since the founding of our company, has always been the care we take for our people. Our culture sets us apart and makes Bacardi a great place to be for our teams around the world and also to our partners who work with us each and every day in this amazing industry,” says Scott Northcutt, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Bacardi. “We are always thinking about the legacy we will leave for future generations, and this wonderful accolade is a valuable testament to the fact that our efforts are being felt by our people.”

The Global leadership at Bacardi has consciously nurtured a culture where every person feels appreciated for who they are, what they do, and who they can become. This is an ethos that permeates every level of the company. People in every role are encouraged to treat each other as family, act fearlessly, think like a founder, and have fun while they’re at it – an ideology that has been an integral part of the company since its inception in 1862. Having its people feel a sense of belonging is important to Bacardi, and the company continues to make strides in the areas of gender parity and inclusivity and has a global mentoring program in place to support its diverse talent pipeline.

Appreciation for its unique culture of camaraderie and care are not foreign to Bacardi, and the company has been listed as a Great Place to Work® or Top Employer™ in many of the countries it operates in, including the United StatesUnited Kingdom, Russia, Poland, South AfricaIndiaUAE, Australia, Canada, and across Latin America. In many of these countries, it has been a recipient of this recognition over multiple years, an achievement that is even more remarkable during the pandemic.

Bacardi has always put the safety of its people first and was quick to focus on employee wellbeing with existing initiatives such as the global ‘Bacardi Assist’ program brought to the fore. Free counseling as well as mental health and parenting support, and work-life balance sessions were extended to employees and partners of Bacardi. Ongoing virtual wellbeing seminars and workshops continue to bring team members together as they now operate in hybrid work environments.

Click HERE for the official publication of the full list of employers. All details regarding the methodology can be found HERE.

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20211214005218/en/It%E2%80%99s-Official%21-Bacardi-is-One-of-the-World%E2%80%99s-Best-Employers