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Continuing a decade-old battle in U.S. courts, Pernod Ricard SA said it will ask for a rehearing after a U.S. appeals court stripped the company’s Cuban joint venture partner of its Havana Club U.S. trademark.

The French liquor group markets Cuban-made Havana Club rum worldwide through its Havana Club International joint venture.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled 2-1 Tuesday against Cubaexport, stripping the company of its rights in the 35-year old trademark registration of Havana Club. The ruling does not give any rights in the Havana Club trademark to competitor Bacardi, which has challenged Cubaexport’s U.S. trademark.

The court based its decision on Section 211, an obscure amendment Bacardi lobbyists were able to slip into a 1999 budget bill that prohibits the recognition of Cuban trademarks that had been nationalized after the 1959 revolution. Section 211 has been condemned by the World Trade Organization and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Judge Laurence Silberman was the dissenting voice, arguing that “the court’s opinion … is unsound doctrinally, both with regard to principles of statutory interpretation and to basic tenets of administrative law.”

“We strongly disagree with the court’s decision, but are encouraged by the dissenting opinion of Judge Silberman,” said Ian FitzSimons, general counsel for Pernod Ricard. ”Therefore, Cubaexport will seek a rehearing by the Court of Appeals.”

“By virtue of its 1976 trademark registration, Cubaexport owns the Havana Club trademark in the United States. It is surprising that a U.S. court would allow an intellectual property right to be destroyed retroactively by refusing to allow renewal of this trademark registration.”

The Havana Club trademark is registered in more than 120 countries, where the rum is sold. In February, the High Court of Spain rejected Bacardi’s claims to own the Havana Club trademark in that country.

Havana Club is listed as the No. 2 international rum brand worldwide, excluding the U.S. market, and the No. 3 top Elite Brand on the rankings published by IWSR.

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