Pernod Ricard’s legal boss Ian FitzSimons is stepping down

Ian FitzSimons is stepping down as Pernod Ricard’s group general counsel, a role he has held at the French drinks giant since 2002.

The legal executive plans to devote his time to “new projects outside of the Group”, according to a statement, having fielded Pernod Ricard’s legal disputes for the past 16 years.

Ian will be replaced by Amanda Hamilton-Stanley, who currently serves as general counsel for Chivas Brothers, from September 2018.

The drinks giant said FitzSimons was “a key actor in the major acquisitions which have transformed the Group during Ian’s tenure as General Counsel.”

“Pernod Ricard wishes to thank him for his contribution.”

Pernod Ricard has made a number of new acquisitions over the past six months, most notably in the agave spirits category.

Its US arm completed its acquisition of single village mezcal brand Del Maguey in August last year – marking its first foray into the growing mezcal market.

It also completed its acquisition of tequila-maker Avión in January 2018.

FitzSimons advised Pernod Ricard while the French firm was, and still is, facing a decades-long legal battle with Bacardi over the rights to rum brand Havana Club.

The French drinks group owns the Havana Club brand in partnership with Cubaexport – an agency under the Cuban government.

However, Bacardi also sells a brand of Havana Club rum, distilled in Puerto Rico, in the US. Pernod Ricard owns the international rights to the Cuba-made Havana Club brand outside of the US, since the country’s ban on Cuban imports remains.

However, in February 2016, the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) renewed the trademark of Pernod Ricard’s brand until 2026, setting in motion a lengthy legal challenge from Bacardi. The US drinks firm recently launched an impassioned marketing campaign which draws on the experiences of Cuban exiles and features Cuban-American actor Raúl Esparza.

Pernod Ricard has accused Bacardi of including “misleading statements”in the campaign.

Speaking in 2016 at the time of the ruling, FitzSimons said that Cubaexport “will prevail in defending its registration in the pending litigation.”

“We look forward to letting the Court decide the case on the merits.”

One Response to “Pernod Ricard’s legal boss Ian FitzSimons is stepping down”

  1. Jose Aliva says:

    The article written is incorrect, since Bacardi owns the original Havana Club made by the original owners the Arechabala Family. Pernod Ricard and the Cuban government have been profiting from a stolen brand. Please drink business you must verify your sources to always write the truth, it is your responsibility as a spirits business reporter

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