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Brabners gives GlaxoSmithKline a headache over trade mark dispute

Brabners gives GlaxoSmithKline a headache over trade mark dispute

Wednesday 11th July 2018

A family-run business has defeated global drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline in a dispute over an over-the-counter painkiller in a case advised on by our IP team.

Family-run Apollo Generics Limited applied to register its brand ZANAMOL, which is used in relation to pain relieving medication and nutritional supplements, as a UK trade mark in October 2016. This move was opposed by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare (UK) IP Limited on the grounds that it was too similar in name and class specification to PANADOL, which is one of the biggest selling brands of paracetamol-based pain relief in the UK. 

GlaxoSmithKline argued that a likelihood of confusion existed between the marks ZANAMOL and PANADOL. But the UK Intellectual Property Office has now ruled in favour of Apollo Generics.

It stated that neither pharmaceutical or healthcare professionals, nor members of the public, would be confused between the marks and said within its judgement: “I cannot see any reasons why the marks are likely to be indirectly confused. Pharmacists and other health professionals are used to differentiating between many similar words, such as ‘hyper’ and ‘hypo’ to give one example. In this case where the beginnings of the marks are different, there is no likelihood of a professional being confused between the two marks.”

Headquartered in Liverpool, Apollo Generics develops and sells prescription pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medicines to clients including small independent pharmacies, the NHS and regional hospital trusts. Since it was founded in 2006, the business has expanded internationally and now exports to more than 20 countries worldwide.

Hayley Morgan, Chartered Trade Mark Attorney at Brabners, represented Apollo Generics in the dispute. She said: “There are thousands of small and medium-sized businesses right across the UK that would see the might of a multinational such as GSK and not dispute a trade mark challenge, but this judgement shows that small firms have a route to defend themselves in the face of a dispute with a multibillion pound business. Intellectual property is one of the most valuable assets a business can own and it must be protected. This represents a huge win for the Apollo team.”

Richard Rawlinson, managing director of Apollo Generics, added: “We pride ourselves on being an independent, family-run business as it gives us the flexibility to innovate and respond to customer needs quickly and efficiently, and this case shows that while multinational businesses may throw their weight around, smaller businesses can use the IPO to defend themselves. We know how strong our brand and product offering is, and we will always give our competitors a headache if it means protecting our business.”