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Pharmaceutical compounds come onto the market with at least three names—a systematic chemical name, a generic name, and a trademark. There are usually several ways to name an organic substance systematically, most of them too cumbersome to use for routine communications. To simplify communication during research, pharmaceutical companies create code names for new molecular entities. The Chemical Abstracts Service assigns a registry number to every substance in an indexed document, recording code names when they are used. Both code names and registry numbers are useful for performing literature searches, but neither is used to identify a drug in the marketplace. Generic names are assigned to new chemical entities when they are registered for sale as pharmaceuticals. The generic name is associated with the compound regardless of the dosage form or the manufacturer, and is used to identify drugs after the original manufacturer loses market exclusivity and the drug enters the generic marketplace. Trademarks are the brand names and logos that identify the source of a product. They are registered with a national government or an international authority by the manufacturer or marketer of a product and can be maintained for as long as they are used in commerce. The association of a trademark with a drug is especially valuable after the drug becomes generic. Generic drugs sold under trademarks benefit from customer loyalty long after they become available under their generic name: for example, Motrin-IB® and Advil® are sold successfully in competition with each other as well as with generic ibuprofen (Fig. 1).

Trademarks are limited to the countries in which they are registered, and it is common for a company's product to be sold under one trademark in some countries and another trademark in others. A trademark need not be completely new to be registered, but it must be different from any other mark in use for the same class of product or service in that country. Pharmaceutical companies strive to select distinctive trademarks that will not create confusion among physicians or patients and that do not have negative connotations in the language of the countries in which the drug will be sold. A trademark entitles its owner to sue others for unauthorized use of the mark. Violators can be fined by the courts and enjoined from further infringement, and registration of similar marks can be opposed by the owner of the senior mark through the trademark office.

Trademark searches are performed by pharmaceutical companies prior to the selection of a generic name or trademark to ensure that the names chosen for the new drug will not create confusion between the new drug and older products and will not infringe an existing trademark. Trademark searches are also useful as sources of information about the plans of competitors, about mergers and acquisitions, and about the transfer of a product from one company to another. The owners of valuable trademarks regularly search for newly filed trademarks that could be confused with their own established mark. The owner of the senior mark is entitled to file a formal opposition to the registration of the new mark, and appeals can be taken to the courts. Since the introduction of Viagra® to the U.S. market, for example, Pfizer has successfully blocked registration of many similar marks.


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Systematic names

1-[[3-(4,7-Dihydro-1-methyl-7-oxo-3-propyl-1H-pyrazolo[4,3-d]pyrimidin-5-yl)-4-ethoxyphenyl]sulfonyl]-4-methylpiperazine citrate


6-dihydro-7H-pyrazolo[4,3-d]pyrimidin-7-one citrate

Manufacturer's code

UK 92480-10

CAS Registry No.


Generic name

Sildenafil citrate



Figure 1 Systematic and nonsystematic names for Viagra1. TRADEMARK DATABASES

Figure 1 Systematic and nonsystematic names for Viagra1. TRADEMARK DATABASES

Trademark registers are accessible through databases made available by the trademark offices and also through commercial databases.

Trademark databases are searchable by means of trademark name, Vienna Codes for description of figurative elements, textual descriptions of graphic images, International Class codes for goods and services, goods and services descriptions, trademark owner and representative names, and dates associated with the filing and status of the trademark. Trademarks must either be registered in each country where protection is needed or they may be submitted to an international agency, such as the European Community, or filed under the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks at the International Bureau of the World Industrial Property Organization or a national trademark office. Most trademark databases are comprised of a single country's trademarks, with an increasing number of countries making these databases available on their intellectual property office's Web site. Each intellectual property office uses its own search engine, and the capabilities of these search engines can vary enormously, particularly in their abilities to handle "fuzzy logic'' to find marks that are similar but not identical to the mark being searched. A search for "Viagra" may retrieve the trademarks "Vytagra®'' and "Niagra®''. The better the search algorithm, the more related marks one can retrieve, and therefore the more effectively the trademark owner can defend its mark by opposing the registration or use of those similar trademarks.

Commercial databases allow one to search for a trademark in one country or many countries simultaneously using a single search interface.

Subscription trademark databases include the Thomson & Thomson SAEGIS™ service, the CCH Corsearch QUATRA™ service, and the MicroPatent service (http:// static/trademark_page.htm). Trademark databases can also be searched alone or in clusters on commercial online search services. Dialog carries the Compu-Mark TRADEMARKSCAN® trademark files. Questel-Orbit carries files created by Compu-Mark, AvantlQ®, CCH and their own database designers. Questel-Orbit also has a specialized interface, TrademarkExplorer, for Web-based searching of the trademarks with fuzzy logic capabilities that are not available with other Questel-Orbit interfaces.

SAEGIS. Thomson & Thomson, N. Quincy MA. URL: http:// Web-based, subscription international trademark service.

QUATRA. CCH Corsearch, New York. URL: http://www. Web-based, subscription international trademark service. MicroPatent, East Haven, CT. URL: http:// Web-based international trademark and domain name service. Access through daily or long-term subscription.

Trademark Explorer, Questel-Orbit, Paris. Web-based international trademark service accessible with an account to the Questel-Orbit search service.

Ojala M. "Trademarks for the Business Searcher.'' Online 1996; 20(2):52-57. Trademark searching from the business specialist's point of view, including a comparison of the Thomson & Thomson TRADEMARKSCAN and IMS International Imsmarq Trademark databases available in 1995-1996.

Wallace K. "A Quick Look at Thomson & Thomson's Saegis Trademark Research Service.'' Searcher 1998; 6(9):60.

Ivaldi J. "Thomson & Thomson's SAEGIS: Trademarks Made Easy on the Web.'' Online 1997; 21(4):62. Introduction to the SAEGIS service.

Fulton ML. "Q&S: A Comparison of QUATRA and SAEGIS Trademark Databases.'' Searcher 2003; 11(9):38.

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