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Can There Be A Monopoly In The Trade-Marks Act, 1999 For The Use Of A Generic Word?

The Indian pharmaceutical industry is growing at an extremely rapid pace, and the Indian Government is also attempting to bring in reforms to the industry, to make it more competitive. Section 13 of the Trademark Act 1999 prohibits the use of chemicals as trademarks; however in the pharmaceutical industry it is extremely prevalent to name the medicine after the organ it is treating, for example Liv-52 for liver.

The idea behind this legislation is the school of thought process that nobody can monopolize a disease, organ, and things of similar nature. This Article discusses various judicial precedents vis the vis the same related to this dilemma.

Jr. Kapoor v/s Micronix India [(Appeal) Civil 2253 of 1994]:
MICROTEL sought to restrain MICRONIX, both were sellers of electrical apparatus. The Apex Court held that there can be no monopoly on the word "Micro", as the same is associated with electronic goods. Hence the Injunction was refused.

Now let us examine through judicial precedent, whether there can be monopoly over the use of generic marks, with special reference to the pharmaceutical sector.
  1. Sbi Ltd vs Himalyan Drug Company [FAO(OS) (Need Proper Citation)]:
    Plaintiff had a medicine, which had the name "Liv 52", defendant had medicine by the name of "Liv T". The Single Bench of the Delhi High Court had granted the Injunction, while the Division Bench held that both the names were derived from the Liver organ, hence it had become Publica Juris, and nobody could claim monopoly over the same.
  2. Sun Pharmaceutical Laboratories Ltd vs Hetero Healthcare Pvt Ltd [(FAO Comm) 96 of 2022)]:
    In this, the Hon'ble Delhi High Court opined that the name "LETROZOLE" derived from the compound "Letero" used in the treatment of breast cancer, could not be said to be exclusive to trade, and an Oncologist who is prescribing those medicines would be unlikely to mistake these medicines.
  3. F. Hoffman La Roche vs Geoffrey Manner and Co [(Civil Appeal No. 1330 of 1965)]:
    In the instant case, the Supreme Court opined that the medicine "Protovit" derived from the word "Vitamin", as it was a vitamin supplement, was not deceptive to the name "Dropovit" as it was "Publica Juris".
  4. Cadila Healthcare Ltd vs Cadila Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd [(Appeal) Civil 2372 of 2001]:
    The Hon'ble Apex Court restrained the use of the medicine "falcitab" saying it was deceptively similar to Falcigo., as the Court opined that both were using the Cadila name, and even if given by prescription, there was a possibility of confusion.

We can say with reasonable certainty that Courts are loathe to grant Injunction in case of names of medicines, which are based on names of diseases.

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