Drug Firms Must Use Single Trademark Across EU, Court Rules

12 December 2002

Pharmaceutical firms must continue to use a single trademark for each of their drugs across the fifteen member states of the European Union after the bloc’s highest appeals court rejected manufacturers’ attempts to overturn an earlier ruling.

Drugs companies are forbidden from using different product names within the EU – a rule they claim causes delays as they seek a brand acceptable in all markets.

Despite such complaints, the law has been upheld by the continent’s top appeals court, Luxembourg’s Court of First Instance.

Judges ruled against a petition from German firm Boehringer Ingelheim, which asked to use a different name for its Daquiran medication in Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Finland following complaints from a rival company that the branding would cause confusion with another drug.

The court said the single-trademark rule was justified as it is in line with the EU’s single market policy, helps consumers recognise drugs and makes it easier for the EU to approve new treatments.

However, judges added that more than one name could be used in exceptional circumstances, when doing so will not cause confusion and the protection of public health is at risk.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff