China pulls J&J trademark on OneTouch diabetes products

If you need more evidence that Big Pharma patents and trademarks are under siege in emerging markets, here's this: China yanked Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) OneTouch trademark rights, allowing competitors to sell their diabetes-monitoring products under the same name.

J&J says it's appealing the decision, Reuters reports. "Johnson & Johnson, which has invested in the Chinese market under this brand for almost 10 years, is extremely shocked by the decision and is very disappointed," the company said in a statement.

The trademark loss follows a series of patent moves in India, where access-to-medicine concerns have prompted officials to refuse patent protection for--or pull existing patents on--a series of brand-name drugs, particularly cancer treatments. 

In India, domestic rivals can petition the government to cancel a patent or even force a license on a still-on-patent drug, as in the case of Bayer's Nexavar, a cancer treatment now copied by India-based Natco Pharma under a compulsory license. Something similar happened with the J&J trademark, Reuters says: A lawyer for a Chinese company that had used the OneTouch brand name applied to cancel the trademark. 

The State Administration for Industry and Commerce issued the ruling in December; J&J says it will apply for judicial review and ask that the decision be canceled.

The move comes amid a Chinese crackdown on corruption in the pharma industry. Authorities are probing several drugmakers for potential violations of bribery laws. The most high-profile case involves GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and an alleged $490 million in bribes.

- read the Reuters story

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