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Business News/ Companies / News/  HC rejects Sun Pharma Lab plea in trademark case

MUMBAI : The Delhi High Court has rejected a plea by Sun Pharmaceutical Laboratories Ltd wherein it claimed that Hetero Healthcare Ltd has infringed on its trademark ‘Letroz’, a generic drug for second line treatment of advanced breast cancer.

A bench led by Justice Amit Mahajan said “Sun, in the present case, cannot be allowed to monopolize the INN ‘Letrozole’. The mark, ‘Letroz’, is not similar to the trademark ‘Letero’ merely because both the parties have adopted the initial letters (Sun adopted the first six and Hetero adopted the first three) of the INN ‘Letrozole’".

Essentially, International Nonproprietary Names (INN) facilitate the identification of pharmaceutical substances or active pharmaceutical ingredients. Each INN is a unique name that is globally recognized and is public property.

Earlier, Sun had filed a suit before a commercial court, alleging infringement of its ‘Letroz’ trademark and passing off and seeking a decree of permanent injunction restraining Hetero from using the trademark ‘Letero’ for the drug.

The commercial court, however, rejected it in April this year.

In its petition, Sun claimed to be one of the world’s top generic pharma companies. It said that it secured registration of the trademark ‘Letroz’ in October 2010 under Class 5.

Sun further claimed that due to the trademark registration, it has a statutory right to exclusively use ‘Letroz’ and is entitled to restrain Hetero from using its trademark.

According to Sun, the product’s outstanding quality and high performance are what caused a surge in sales of 8.34 crores in the 2016–17 fiscal year. Additionally, it stated that it spent a significant amount of money promoting Letroz.

Prices of Sun’s and Hetero’s products vary considerably. Sun charges 187.80 for its product, while Hetero is priced at 60, the high court noted while taking cognizance of the fact that the packaging and colour scheme of the two products were not similar.

Hetero contended that it is common practice in the pharmaceutical industry to use trademarks derived from the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API).

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Priyanka Gawande
Priyanka Gawande is a senior legal correspondent at Mint. She has worked as legal reporter for four years with both television and digital mediums. Based in Mumbai, she reports on disputes across sectors including banking, corporates and finance. This also includes insolvency and bankruptcy cases and intellectual property rights (IPR) litigation. Her focus also comprises tracking capital markets and disputes relating to securities law. Previously, Priyanka worked with Informist Media for 2.5 years covering major insolvency and bankruptcy cases and corporate developments. She started her career in journalism with Business Television India (BTVi) where she reported on primary markets, banking, finance and insurance companies.
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Updated: 01 Sep 2022, 01:39 AM IST
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