Updated November 10, 2020:

What is a Trademark?

Pharmaceutical trademarks are a type of mark that consumers can use to identify trustworthy goods.

Trademarks are used to differentiate goods provided by one company from those manufactured by another and can be a symbol, word, phrase, design, or a combination of these items.

Consumers can use trademarks to tell goods apart so that they're making sure to purchase the exact product that they want.

Important Role of Pharmaceutical Trademarks

Pharmaceutical trademarks are important because they help consumers find their desired products, which builds the reputation of the mark and also encourages the pharmaceutical company to maintain the quality of their goods. Without a strong trademark, it would be impossible for consumers to tell the difference between available products.

Pharmaceutical trademarks can also help to reduce medication errors in healthcare settings. In addition, a strong trademark helps people choose the correct medications. Trademarks can also incentivize manufacturers to ensure the safety of their existent drugs and invest in new medications.

Pharmaceutical Trademark and Regulatory Clearances

After choosing possible names for a new drug or product, pharmaceutical companies must work toward regulatory and legal approval, which can be extremely difficult and time-consuming. Generally, pharmaceutical products are sold worldwide, which means pharmaceutical companies need to choose a trademark that is available in every country where the product will be sold.

When launching a new pharmaceutical product, companies need to perform a global trademark search to make sure that their desired mark isn't already being used and that their branding doesn't have a negative meaning in certain countries. It is important to obtain health authority approval, as well as approval from the correct trademark registries, before attempting to sell a pharmaceutical product.

Focusing on the most important countries first can help save money on regulation and trademark searches, as well as advice from a trademark attorney.

Creating Strong Pharmaceutical Trademarks

Patent protection has created a very strong relationship between life sciences and intellectual property. Thanks to the ability to patent discoveries in the pharmaceutical field, small businesses have the ability to grow into global companies that earn millions in profits, have the ability to invest in research and development, and hire thousands of employees.

Recently, it has become apparent that pharmaceutical companies need to choose a strong brand if they want to promote research and development that will lead to a successful product. Evidence shows that pharmaceutical trademarks can help to reduce confusion between products and boost public health.

Healthcare professionals rely on pharmaceutical trademarks to help them choose the right drug from the many available, and also allows patients to identify the drug that they wish to use.

When choosing a pharmaceutical trademark, there are several factors to consider, including:

  • The rules for standard trademarks
  • The need to register the trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office
  • The rules and regulations of the Food and Drug Administration

The top concern when choosing a pharmaceutical trademark is reducing consumer confusion, allowing you to develop feelings of goodwill toward your brand.

Chemical Names and Generic Names

In addition to the pharmaceutical trademark, a drug will have a chemical name and a nonproprietary name which will be used to identify the generic form of the drug. Both international and national naming agencies will use these names.

What is INN (International Nonproprietary Names)

An INN (International Nonproprietary Name) is used to identify every pharmaceutical product. The purpose of this naming convention is identifying a drug's active ingredient and is particularly useful to healthcare providers that must be able to understand a drug's chemical composition before prescribing it to patients.

Since 1953, INNs have been given to products intended for international sale by the World Health Organization (WHO). To help prevent confusion, WHO states that an INN is not eligible for use as a pharmaceutical trademark.

What Does Trademark Law Say on INN?

Trademark law is focused on protecting the interests of businesses that own trademarks, which means it is not concerned with the same issues covered by INNs.

When reviewing a trademark, the concern of the examiner is to make sure that no single business is monopolizing a phrase or term that should be free for general usage.

If you need help understanding or registering pharmaceutical trademarks, you can post your legal needs on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.