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5 November 2015Americas

AstraZeneca says no to rival purple pills

AstraZeneca has sued Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories claiming that the colour purple, used by DRL on its generic version of AZ’s Nexium (esomeprazole), infringes its trademarks.

The lawsuit filed at the US District Court for the District of Delaware last week, follows a similar trademark claim filed by AZ against Camber Pharmaceuticals, which has also used the colour purple for its generic product.

AZ has marketed both Prilosec (omeprazole) and Nexium under the colour purple.

Prilosec first entered the market in 1989 as a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) that reduces the amount of acid produced in an individual’s stomach. AZ released Nexium in 2001, which is also marketed for the same use.

Between 1989 and 2014, AZ sold more than seven billion Prilosec capsules and between 2001 and 2014 15 billion Nexium capsules, according to the complaint.

“AZ’s advertising in visual media since 2000 has consistently emphasized the colour purple and the ‘look for’ purple theme, including for example depicting floating purple drug capsules, persons wearing purple-colored clothes, and purple backgrounds and borders,” the complaint, filed on October 28, added.

AZ has three registered trademarks covering the application of purple in connection with pharma products. Some of its trademarks also include variations such as purple and gold.

All three trademarks were registered at the US Patent and Trademark Office between 2004 and 2006 and the term ‘The Purple Pill’ was registered in 2006.

AZ discovered the alleged infringing product on October 13, the same day that the Delaware court awarded it a temporary restraining order against Camber over its use o f the colour purple for its generic version of Nexium.

In the latest filing, AZ has asked the court to find DRL liable for counterfeiting and unfair advertising.

“By copying AZ’s purple colour trademarks, in addition to creating a likelihood of confusion as to source, sponsorship, or affiliation with AZ, DRL creates the false impression that its generic esomeprazole magnesium capsules are either identical to Nexium or are an ‘authorized generic’ i.e., a generic drug made or put-out by the brand name company,” AZ concluded in its lawsuit.

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