Judge rules on 'Merck' brand name

Judge rules on 'Merck' brand name

A judge in London has made rulings on how sections of an international pharmaceuticals giant which began life as an apothecary shop in Germany nearly 350 years ago should coexist in the internet age.

Mr Justice Norris said companies using the Merck name had made agreements on the use of the Merck trademark in different countries in the 1950s.

The judge has made a series of detailed decisions on how commercial agreements dating back decades should operate on websites after being asked for rulings by Merck bosses and analysing the case at a High Court hearing in London.

He said, in a written outline of the case, that Merck had its origins in an apothecary shop in Darmstadt in 1668. The family business had grown “hugely”, begun trading in the USA in 1889 and split into E Merck and Merck and Co Inc after the First World War.

The judge explained: “The questions that lie at the heart of these proceedings are how a co-existence agreement dating from the 1950s can operate in the age of the internet.”

Mr Justice Norris said Merck Global had made complaints relating to Merck US websites.

Bosses said domain names including the word Merck could be accessed globally and were in breach of agreements.

Merck US had disputed the complaints.

He concluded that Merck US had infringed a trademark of which Merck Global was a registered proprietor.

Merck Global was also entitled to injunctions against Merck & Co and Merck Sharp & and Dohme Ltd, he said.

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