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Friday, 9 December 2005


The IPKat is grateful to Felicity Hide for pointing him in the direction of another IP misnomer.

Earlier this year, the Times reported on a man found guilty of running a counterfeit drugs ring, including a factory in Wembley containing £6m of counterfeit medications, including fake VIAGRA and diazepam. Acccording to the article, loopholes meant that Valentine could be charged only with copyright infringements.

As Felicity points out, this was obviously a trade mark case and the difference is important because the the maximum term under the Trade Marks Act was rather higher than other applicable charges.

Despite the blooper, there is actually a serious point to this article. It castigates pharmaceutical companies and medical regulators for not doing enough to crack down on counterfeit drugs. The drugs companies are often loathe to report counterfeiting incidents because they are afraid of undermining confidence in their branded drugs. This leads to a conflict between the need to protect the reputation of the brand and the need to protect patients. Also, there is no obligation for drug compaies to report incidents. This is unlike the situation in civil aviation, where aircraft manufacturers are obliged to report incidences of fake spare parts.

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