Trademarks Protecting The Future of Pharma Innovation

Hemapriya kanakkupillai

In recent decades, the pharmaceutical industry has contributed significantly to the great strides that have been made against diseases including; cancer, HIV/Aids, and tropical diseases such as malaria. In 2020, when the world was engulfed by the COVID-19 pandemic, pharma companies entered into an unprecedented race to find effective treatments, resulting in the global collaborative efforts of pharmas, government agencies, and higher education institutions.

Having intellectual property that protects these important pharmaceutical innovations is critical to the global pharmaceutical and biotech sectors and to the global population. Without this trademark registration online, companies and individuals are unable to commercialize this invaluable global research and development work, and pharma companies will have depleted investment resources to develop drugs for the next serious illness. Just as importantly, in the pharma field, IP acts as a crucial safety mechanism against the proliferation of potentially dangerous or ineffective treatments.

The value of having a strong trademark and brand protection strategy

The commercial value of owning marks, patents, and designs cannot be understated. A new report from the EUIPO shows that companies owning IPRs create an average of 20% more revenue per employee than those that don't. While strong trademarks also help to protect all businesses and consumers, for pharma companies in particular, a robust trademark establishment process is necessary because before releasing any new product, pharma companies will have already spent a considerable amount of money and many years on R&D and clinical trials. The trademarks registered to apply to these new products then are born with debt and so are even more valuable to the owner.  

In addition to trademark registration in India, pharma companies developing new drugs will obtain patents to protect their investments. However, once qualifying conditions are met, a patent has a comparatively short shelf life of twenty years. It’s a common misconception that the clock on a patent only starts ticking once the drug hits the market. In reality, a patent can be in force for years before a pharmaceutical company can begin commoditizing their creation. In different regions, there are different strategies that can be employed to extend or compensate for this, but it is a complex matter. 

Generic pharma companies who do not carry out any R&D typically wait for a patent to expire (and become generic) and then start to produce that drug. So, the patent owner needs to make sure their trademark is so strong that when the patent does expire, consumers still associate the commercial product with the drug itself rather than instantly swapping to the generic version. The original trademark will be the only intellectual property asset that the innovator will have once the patent expires as a trademark assigns a license that is virtually perpetual.

Last year saw biopharma dominated by COVID-19, which resulted in a surge of vaccine research and business activity. Let’s look at recent vaccine trademark activity to find out the current volume of applications, and in which international Classes these marks have been filed.

Pharma and biotech trademark search solutions

It is worth knowing that to derive the above information, our platform and trademark clearance tools rely on trademark application data provided by 180 registries as well as common law data containing more than 140 million public and private companies in 191 countries. Global pharma-in-use and clinical trials data (including IMS Health, POCA [FDA], INN, and USAN data), along with major app stores, web, and social media data is also included. All global data is gathered and cleaned by our databases and AI platform regularly. 

Biopharma innovation — gene editing 

The pharma industry also saw developments in other areas that will position it for further growth, even after the virus is brought under control. Gene editing is one biopharma trend that has already attracted a lot of attention. 

In 2018, an innovation known as CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) made headlines as an emerging technology that could revolutionize medicine. The key breakthrough in its development came in 2012, when teams in the US and Europe, led by Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, demonstrated how the bacterial defense system could be turned into a ‘cut and paste’ tool for editing gene sequences. In 2020, they were awarded the nobel prize for their efforts. 


Hemapriya kanakkupillai
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