Drugs giant sees red at design of rival's purple asthma inhaler
Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is launching a court bid to prevent a rival from selling an inhaler for asthmatics which it says infringes its trademark.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said Rowex Ltd is preparing to sell a product similar in its packaging to the "Seretide" inhaler and that this infringed its trademark.
Seretide is the fourth-highest-selling pharmaceutical product in the world, with more than $62bn (€58bn) in global sales, including Ireland.
The UK-based Glaxo Group, along with GSK (Ireland) Ltd, trading as Allen and Hanburys, is to apply next month for an injunction preventing Rowex, a member of the Rowa group, from launching an inhaler called "AirFluSal".
GSK's case alleging infringement of trademark was admitted to the High Court's fast track Commercial Court division on consent between the parties.
The application for an injunction preventing roll-out of the product will be heard next month.
In an affidavit, GSK's vice-president and trademark counsel Joanne Green said her company had built up a valuable intellectual property over the past 15 years in the use of "the unique and distinctive colour purple" on its Seretide inhaler.
The AirFluSal inhaler, which contains the same generic active ingredient as Seretide, is also to be packaged using the colour purple, she said.
This was a "blatant and unlawful attempt to piggy-back on the huge investment" made by GSK in relation to Seretide, she said. While there are multiple products with the same active ingredient already on the market, they have not copied the purple colour.
GSK's objection is to the combination by Rowex of purple with a device similar of shape to the Seretide inhaler.
If Rowex was to change the colour of its inhaler, so that purple was no longer used, GSK would have no objection to the shape of the AirFluSal device, Ms Green said.