Cuba gets US trademark to sell Havana Club rum

US law still restricts travelers from Cuba to $100 worth of alcohol or tobacco, which is not enough for a box of cigars -- but can buy a shelf load of $7 bottles of rum (AFP Photo/Adalberto Roque) (AFP/File)

Washington (AFP) - The US Patent and Trademark Office has given Cuba a green light to sell Havana Club rum in America when it lifts its embargo against the communist island, documents showed.

The trademark, which was granted Wednesday, represents an end -- at least for the moment -- to a long legal battle between the two makers of the rum, Cuba and Bacardi, the latter of which produces the drink in Puerto Rico.

The origin of the seemingly endless legal squabble dates back to 1959, when Bacardi, which had produced rum in Cuba under both its own name and Havana Club, left the island as Fidel Castro came to power.

The company would go on to make Havana Club in Puerto Rico, especially for the US market.

In 1976, Cuba, which also continued to produce Havana Club, was able to register the trademark in the United States but was later denied it by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in 2006.

Cuba pursued the matter all the way to the US Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case in 2012.

According to documents from the patent office, Cuban company Cubaexport received special permission from OFAC on Monday and filed the proper paperwork.

Bacardi is likely to draw out the legal battle and contest the trademark move in court.