Thursday, August 04, 2011

3d Cir.: HAVANA CLUB brand not falsely imply made in Cuba where label clearly says "Puerto Rican Rum"

In yet another long-running, multi-forum dispute (where do I go to get such litigious clients??), the 3d Circuit held that the brand name HAVANA CLUB appearing on a label for rum did not, as a matter of law, imply to ordinary consumers that the rum was made in Cuba or sourced from Cuban ingredients.

In Pernod Ricard USA, LLC v. Bacardi U.S.A., Inc., No. 10-2354 (3d Cir. Aug. 4, 2011), the district court rejected the plaintiff’s false advertising claim under the Lanham Act as a matter of law, holding that plaintiff’s survey, which concluded that 18% of respondents were misled, was immaterial because the label also “clearly and truthfully” stated that the rum was from Puerto Rico. The 3d Cir agreed, holding that in “rare” occasions like this case the words in a challenged ad, read as a whole, are so clear that a court can ignore surveys to the contrary and dismiss a false advertising case as a matter of law.

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