AstraZeneca AB wins large trademark suit

On 27 May 2002, the Copenhagen Maritime and Commercial Court ordered that A/S GEA Farmaceutisk Fabrik had unlawfully used the trademark Metozoc, as it is too close to AstraZeneca AB's well-known trademark SELO-ZOK. Both trademarks were used in connection with the blood pressure reducing drug Metoprolol.

Therefore, A/S GEA Farmaceutisk Fabrik must immediately stop all marketing, sale and export of the farmaceutical preparations with the name Metozoc and cancel its registration of the trademarks Metozok and Metosoc. Furhtermore, the company was ordered to pay damages in the amount of DKK 3 million plus interest to AstraZeneca AB as well as the legal costs.

AstraZeneca AB, represented by attorney Peter-Ulrik Plesner from Plesner Svane Grønborg, thereby succeeded in all its claims and in prohibiting a competitor from using a product name that is dangerously close to its own similar product.

Among other things, Peter-Ulrik Plesner submitted that AstraZeneca has always upheld its trademark rights to use "Zok" and has at no time waived this right. Furthermore, there was no reason for providing the trademark SELO-ZOK with a narrow protection under trademark law, because the trademark is aimed at experts (doctors). On the contrary, there is in this case an increased risk of confusing the products, and the differences in the plasma profile of the products mean that patients cannot alternate between the products without the risk of side effects. Only SELO-ZOK may be split in half and only SELO-ZOK has been approved for treatment of heart insufficiency. Confusing the names is therefore not safe for the patients.

The judgment has been appealed to the Supreme Court.