Should pharma companies consider protecting the shape of their products?

Most people will be familiar with the fact that brand names and logos can be registered as trade marks in the majority of countries worldwide. However, there are other lesser-known types of trade marks which can be protected in a number of jurisdictions. One that is particularly relevant to the pharma sector is shapes.

A unique or memorable shape to a product or its packaging can function as a badge of origin, a role traditionally performed by the brand name and logo. The more iconic a shape becomes, the more likely it is that it will be copied, causing confusion. A case of mistaken identity in the pharmaceutical sector can have very serious consequences. Trade mark registrations for shapes which are key to branding, such as blister packs, tablets and bottles, can be used to try to prevent third-party use of identical and similar shapes for similar products.

The article looks at exactly what shapes can be registered, the associated challenges and whether shape trade marks can be enforced.

It stresses that a shape trade mark registration can be a valuable asset for pharma companies if they are able to navigate the potential pitfalls along the way to registration.

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