U.S. trademark agency beats Bacardi lawsuit over Cuba’s ‘Havana Club’

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has defeated a lawsuit brought by rum maker Bacardi & Co in Virginia federal court over the PTO’s revival of a Cuba-owned trademark that the liquor giant uses on American rum.

The court said Wednesday that Bacardi could not sue the PTO directly in the liquor giant’s long-running dispute with Cuba’s state-run Cubaexport over the “Havana Club” trademark, and must challenge the trademark through the PTO itself.

Bacardi attorney Michael Lynch of Kelley Drye & Warren said Thursday that the company is disappointed with the decision and was considering an appeal.

Bermuda-based Bacardi’s founders were exiled from Cuba after the Cuban revolution. Bacardi says the Cuban government unlawfully seized the “Havana Club” mark along with other assets from Cuban company Jose Arechabala SA in 1960.