The history of Cuban rum is an integral part of the Cuban history since the late 15th century, when Christopher Columbus brought the sugar cane to the island. The emergence and development of rum production is closely linked to the production of sugar cane, of which Cuba was one of the world's largest producers since the mid-nineteenth century.
Although the origins of rum as a generic product are not found in Cuba, it is commonly accepted that Cuba is the cradle of the concept and flavors associated with light rum, including its smoothness and the delicacy of its aromas.
Furthermore, it is from Cuba that the product was revealed to the world. Thus, due to the widely known sugar cane , the favorable Caribbean climate, the fertility of the land and the exclusive knowledge and know-how of the Cuban light rum masters, Cuba is known as the Island of Rum.
In this sequence of stories, the Protected Denomination of Origin regarding Cuban rums implies a recognition that guarantees true origin and quality to the consumer, both in its raw materials and ingredients as well as in its process and production techniques. Emilia Horta, legal advisor of the Cuba Ron S.A. Corporation offers, based on her lectures and research, an outline regarding the importance and historical and cultural values that the denomination gives to the Cuban essences.
"The current importance of Denominations of Origin and Geographical Indications in Trade, indicative of unique qualities of a typical product from a specific and unique geographic location, even in and for countries not so well versed in the use of this distinctive sign, but that can use it, has resulted, among others, that unauthorized third parties use trademarks that violate a certain Denomination of Origin. Such understandable but unlawful conduct seeks to get better market positions for those products by attributing to them the characteristics and unique prestige of authentic products, recognized and demonstrated with intentionality and care to consumers ”.
“Legislations and decisions of Industrial Property Offices, from as long ago as the very emergence of the Paris Convention (1883), strive to preserve the order and loyalty of commercial traffic and the interests of consumers. The obligation laid down at the Paris Convention for States to establish procedures for the effective repression of the Acts provided for at the Convention gives rise to the will to avoid any confusion and deception through the misuse of an Industrial Property sign, in particular by false and misleading indications of the origin of a product."
"Following this thought we must say that if a product is marked on its label, counter label or other place on its packaging, with a term or geographical name, it will surely transmit to whoever regards it that it comes from or originates from that place or region, such as Santiago de Cuba in Cuba, and that it is intrinsically linked to the characteristics of that place, which affects it somehow; that it has the quality of the products that come from that place, recognized by the consuming public and by the Intellectual Property Offices. This is an immediate communication, which leads the consumers to decide their choice between all the products of the same class displayed in a showcase.
"On the other hand, the Trademark is a different sign, a modality that indicates the relationship of the product with a producer, a business origin, but not with a particular geographical origin, therefore the absolute prohibition for the registration of trademarks that may mislead the public about the geographical origin is already widespread. So, for example, the Cuban trademark legislation establishes: "the registration of a trademark or other distinctive sign which is identical or similar, phonetically or graphically, to a registered denomination of origin shall be cancelled at the request of a party or ex officio, in so far as the trademark or trade name relates to the same goods designated by the denomination of origin..."
What role does the regulation currently play for the control, administration, communication, protection and defence of the PDO?
Cuban law provides that a trademark may not mislead as to the geographical origin of the product. The Decree Law 203 of 2003 "On Trademarks and Other Distinctive Signs" establishes in Article 16 that "a sign which is likely to mislead the public as to the geographical origin, the nature, the way in which the goods are manufactured or the services provided, the qualities, the suitability for use or consumption, the quantity or any other characteristic of the product or service to which it applies, may not be registered as a trademark. Likewise, it endorses that the above mentioned are composed exclusively of elements that serve in the trade to indicate the species, the quality, the quantity, the destination, the value, the geographical origin, the time of production of the product or of the service provided or other characteristics of the product or service in question.
An important rule is that trademarks containing or consisting of a geographical indication cannot be protected by third parties. In case of request, it must be rejected; if it has been already registered, it must be voided. Such measures may be promoted by any interested party, or taken ex officio (i.e. on the competent authority's own initiative) if the law so provides.