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Tussle continues over Havana Club brand

Published:Wednesday | November 20, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Bottles of Havana Club rum on display in Havana, Cuba, on June 5, 2012. - AP

Richard Browne, Business Reporter

Captain Morgan is not the only rum brand to be owned by two competing distillers. Havana Club is owned by the Cuban government and French distiller Pernod Ricard, but the brand is also owned by Bacardi in the United States (US) market.

Due to the US trade embargo on Cuban-produced goods, Pernod's Havana Club does not have access to the US market anyway - but the company plans to introduce its product there once the embargo is lifted.

Pernod unveiled plans for a new Havanista brand for the US market in 2012, but has not given up its claim to the Havana Club name in the US, and is taking its case to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Cuba's La Granma newspaper reported in September that on June 25, Cuba and the European Union "registered a complaint with the WTO, stating that they had been waiting for 11 years for the United States to revoke Section 211 of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1998, which legalised the theft of the trademark".

Havana Club, which is available in Jamaica, is sold by Pernod in more than 120 markets around the world, with annual sales approaching four million cases.

Captain Morgan, which had its start in Jamaica in the 1940s, is also owned by two European companies, but in different markets.

Control of the international brand of Captain Morgan rests in the United Kingdom with Diageo Plc.

Ultimate ownership of the Jamaican version of the brand, whose sale is confined to Jamaica, also now resides in Europe with Italy's Campari Group, the new owner of local distillery J. Wray & Nephew Limited.

Diageo sells about 10 million cases of Captain Morgan per year.