• January 18, 2016 at 8:43 am

    MSD says it is filing a lawsuit against the German company Merck “regarding their improper use of the name ‘Merck’ in the United States.”

    MSD, which has operated under the name Merck in the US and Canada for 125 years, says it is taking the legal action to “protect our long-established brand rights in the United States.” The US lawsuit is being filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

    MSD was established as a subsidiary of the German parent company in 1891, but became independent in 1917. The Darmstadt, Germany-based Merck is entitled to use the name in all other territories, as per the terms of an agreement between the two companies, last amended in 1970.

    MSD comments: “Our company brand and what it stands for is crucial to our identity and reputation and we will vigorously defend it. We are proud of our unique contributions to patients and society. We are at the forefront of fighting to find treatments and cures to some for the world’s most urgent health challenges, including cancer, diabetes, hepatitis C, Alzheimer’s disease, Ebola, superbugs, HIV, heart disease and many others.”

    A Merck spokesperson told Pharmafile.com the company’s lawyers were “looking into the matter.”

    Separate lawsuit

    The news comes on the same day a UK high court ruled in German Merck’s favour following a three-year battle with MSD, again over the Merck name. In its judgement, the English Court stated that MSD had breached an agreement with the company by using ‘Merck’ alone in the UK “either as a trade mark or a name, online or offline.”

    “Our objective has been to protect the status quo established in the existing agreement”, comments Friederike Rotsch, general counsel at Merck. “Therefore, we are pleased that the English court has upheld our argument that MSD’s use of our name and brand ‘Merck’ in our territories is beyond the limits agreed with MSD.”

    MSD comments: “We are disappointed with the ruling of the High Court of Justice, London, which decided in favour of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, regarding their claims in connection with the use of ‘Merck’ in particular on web sites and social media. This decision reflects one step in a litigation process taking place in a number of countries, and will be appealed.”

    Merck underwent an extensive rebrand as a global science and technology company last year, in a move which it said emphasises its strength in Healthcare, Life Science and Performance Materials.