Trademark INN Searches in India

An International Nonproprietary Name (INN) is a unique and globally recognized name assigned to pharmaceutical substances by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is used to identify a particular active pharmaceutical ingredient and is intended to facilitate communication between healthcare professionals and patients around the world.
An INN trademark search is a crucial step in the process of obtaining recognition for a proposed INN name from the World Health Organization (WHO). The search is conducted to determine if the proposed INN name is already in use or registered as a trademark in any jurisdiction worldwide.
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If the results of the search so conducted are affirmative, that is, if the proposed INN name is already a registered trademark in a particular jurisdiction, it will not receive recognition from the WHO for public use. Therefore, an INN Trademark Search ensures:
  1. that there is no misleading INN name to cause confusion among healthcare professionals and patients around the world
  2. that user of the concerned INN name does not infringe the Intellectual Property Rights of any other individual or entity

How can you conduct an INN Trademark Search?

An INN trademark search is typically conducted in a similar manner as that of a regular trademark search, with only a few key differences. The search begins with identifying the class of goods or services to which the proposed INN name belongs. Once the goods / services are identified and classified, you can choose a suitable trademark database or search engine to conduct the INN Trademark Search. There are several national and international databases available for this purpose, such as the Global Brand Database of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) trademark database, or the Indian Trademark Registry.
After choosing any or all of these databases, you can conduct a preliminary search of the proposed INN name through them. This search will identify any potentially conflicting trademarks that are already registered or pending for registration with the concerned authorities.
If a conflicting mark is found, further investigation may be conducted to determine the scope and extent of the conflict and this could involve consulting with a trademark attorney or legal experts. The results of the investigation will determine whether the proposed INN name can be applied for recognition from the WHO or will it have to be changed or modified.

Let’s understand this better with an Example of INN Trademark Search!

Let’s say a pharmaceutical company based in India wants to propose a new INN name for a drug it has developed. The proposed INN name is “Pain-Relix”. Before submitting the proposal to the WHO, the company would conduct an INN trademark search to determine if any other companies or individuals have registered trademarks using the name “Pain-Relix” in India or any other countries.
Using the Indian Trademark Search Portal (ITSP), the company would conduct a preliminary search for the term “Pain-Relix” in the Indian database of registered trademarks. Similarly, searches will have to be conducted in other international Trademark databases as well. 
If the search reveals that another company has already registered a trademark using the name “Pain-Relix” for a similar product or service, then it would create a potential conflict or IPR infringement and require further investigation to determine if the proposed INN name can be put to use. However, if the search results show no conflicts, the company can proceed to apply for recognition of the proposed INN name to the WHO.

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