December 30, 2016 – Hopefully any deleterious effects of New Year’s Eve partying will have dissipated by Sunday evening in time to watch “60 Minutes” take on the complicated question of who owns the rights to Havana Club Rum.
It is an intriguing story that started in 1959 when the Arechabala family, which had created Havana Club in the 1930s, fled Cuba. The Communists seized their plant and, like so many others, they never received any compensation from the Cuban Government. In 1973, the trademark lapsed and in 1976, CubaExport registered it in the U.S. and continued to make Havana Club Rum in a partnership with the French drinks company, Pernod Ricard. However it was not sold in the United States. Meanwhile, Bacardi acquired the name and recipe from the Arechabala family and began making Havana Club Rum in Puerto Rico in 1994.
Bacardi won a string of legal victories and it appeared in 2012 that the fight was over. Then in 2016, the U.S. Government reversed its longtime policy regarding property seized without compensation by foreign governments and awarded the name Havana Club for the United States to CubaExport. We covered this in detail in February 2016.
Was the decision against Bacardi in favor of the Cuban government a signal of the Administration’s intention to open relations with Cuba? Maybe we’ll find out. We have no idea whether “60 Minutes” decides in favor or one or the other but it should be interesting to watch. CBS Sunday January 1 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern or 7:00 p.m. Pacific time.