Imagine, if you buy a pack of Crocin but instead you are sold a pack of Crodin.
You didn’t notice it when you bought it because the colour of the packet, the design, the shape of the pill, the font of the name are almost identical. It’s the exact shade of blue.
You just checked whether the product was not expired, paid it over the counter and rushed back home to administer the pill to your loved one.
You buy from this pharmacy almost regularly and you had no chances to doubt it.
It is only when your loved one’s health starts deteriorating that you checked with the Doctor who pointed to the incorrect spelling and wrong pill.
It is too late and now your family member needs advanced medical treatment which was earlier a simple headache.
I wish this never happens to you especially during these gloomy times that we are facing, but sadly this is the reality of counterfeit medicines that are sold in the market.
Medicines that adopt a similar or identical mark can not only lead intellectual property (IP) infringement but can also be extremely harmful to the patients/consumers.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that sale of counterfeit drugs range from between around 1% total sales in developed countries to over 10% in developing countries.
Unlike any other consumable item, patients/consumers are at much greater risk if they consume wrong medication and such instances where corporations adopt a similar or identical mark for its pharmaceutical drug, the consequence can be fatal to the extent that it may even lead to death.
In 2018, the Bombay High Court imposed a whopping ₹1.5 crores costs on the a defendant whose anti-fungal cream called Clodid-B was almost identical to the plaintiff’s Candid-B
While commenting on the defendants’ being habitual IP offenders for more than a decade, the High Court stated:
“Drugs are not sweets. Pharmaceutical companies which provide medicines for the health of the consumers have a special duty of care towards them. These companies, in fact, have a greater responsibility towards the general public.
However, nowadays, the corporate and financial goals of such companies cloud the decision of its executives whose decisions are incentivized by profits, more often than not, at the cost of public health. This case is a perfect example of just that.”
The medical innovations and treatments leading to the discovery of new life-saving drugs must be protected through Intellectual Property Rights as the relationship between a consumer and a pharmaceutical product is based entirely on trust.
Trademarks help to distinguish and protect the brand on a company and product level.
Without them you are shopping blind, like buying a car without lifting the bonnet to check whether there’s an engine inside.
This is just one example of a classic trademark issue faced in the pharmaceutical industry.
Pharmaceutical industry is also a very patent-heavy industry, but I will tell you more about that in a different email.
For now, note that pharmaceutical companies invest large sums of money in legal services to exclusively protect the IP rights of their innovations.
They have trained in-house legal teams which are paid extremely well. In addition, they have relationships with external lawyers in the domestic and international market to protect and enforce their IP rights.
With each jurisdiction dominated by different legislations, they are constantly relying on law firms, lawyers and legal services to protect their interest.
Does that sound exciting to you?
Are you interested in exploring or building a career in IP?
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The bootcamp will be hosted by Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO & Co-Founder of LawSikho and Abhyuday Agarwal, COO & Co-Founder of LawSikho.
They will teach you how to develop skills to get remote IP work from abroad and also help you to make a career in the US and UK in the future.
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