SpicyIP Tidbits: WHO and DCGI- A Sweet-Sour Relationship

In what seems to have become a regular affair, the WHO has “has objected to the practice of Indian pharmaceutical companies misusing international non-proprietary names (INN) as trademark protected brand names.” If newspaper reports are to be believed…:
In a recent letter to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), the WHO has expressed concern over a trademark application filed by Cadila Pharmaceuticals for “platin”, a common name that is used for at least 18 medicines. Cadilla officials were not available for comment.”
The problem with this practice, according to WHO, is that it could mislead the customer in addition to being violative of international ethics. Raffaella Balocco Mattavelli, manager of the INN Programme, Quality Assurance and Safety Medicines, WHO, in his letter says:
The registration of platin as trademark is particularly harmful, since it is identical to the INN stem (a portion of INN) ‘-platin’ used for antineoplastic agents, platinum derivates. Moreover, there are already 18 INNs ending with ‘-platin’. It is therefore important that such well-established INN stems should not be allowed to be used in or as trade-marks,”
It is also reported that this is not the first time and the WHO had brought this to the notice of DGCI earlier this year. Readers with more information on this are requested to share the same with us.


  1. J. Sai Deepak

    This is precisely what one of our regular and erudite readers had to say. Out of respect for the person’s decision to remain anonymous, i desist from naming the person. I was directed to this report at http://www.whoindia.org/LinkFiles/Essential_Drugs_INNs_Report.pdf. According to the reader:
    “The Registrar of Trademarks has failed to notify even a single INN so far under section 13 of the Trademarks Act 1999 since being empowered in this regard in September 2003. There are a few reported decisions as for example on TM ‘Prantel’ containing ‘Pyrantel Sodium’ (INN), though, from the TM Office. The Draft Trademarks Manual does make a mention of INN’s but does not contain a whisper on INN Stems. A number of Indian court decisions deal with issues of genericity of word-fragments without noticing that issues of comparison with and reference to an INN or INN Stem are involved. [eg. Methotrexate Sodium-Trexate: Mexate-Zexate; Meropenem-Mer-Penem: Meronem- Meromer; Enaxoparin Calcium-Parin: Loprin- Loparin] no doubt attributable mainly to their attention not being drawn to it adequately by parties and their counsel. Of course, sometimes a court will also hold a word-fragment not featuring in pharmacopieas as a recognisable word-root to still be generic without even going into the issue of whether or not it is an INN Stem!”

  2. J. Sai Deepak

    The same well-wisher who does not wish to be quoted has sent the following citation:

    “India also lacks an Adopted Names Council like the KAN (established 2003), USAN, BAN etc. and the DCGI does not seem to be doing enough to fill in.”


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