Friday, January 15, 2016

Who REALLY Is "Merck" -- In A Global Economy? The EMD v. MSD Name Rights Litigation Re-ignites, On Two Continents

Before that though, the Vioxx securities settlement was widely expected, and largely already baked in to the current NYSE price, so we will cover that over the weekend.

Now, as to the main topic here: US Merck has sued in federal court in New Jersey, because a UK court just ruled that German Merck can force "our" Merck to alter its name, on websites and marketing materials viewable outside the US and Canada. As I've repeatedly written, it has long baffled me that these two titans -- unrelated -- but in several of the same industries, allow this confusion. One or both should rebrand. It is preposterous that the stockholders are paying for litigation on these avoidable disputes. Here is a bit from the UK court judgment; more soon (busy day here; better, more up-to-date graphics -- later in the day -- then traveling):

. . . .The judge said [the German] Merck [known as EMD in the US and Canada] was entitled to an order to prevent MSD [US Merck, of Kenilworth, NJ] from describing itself in any printed or digital material addressed to the UK as "Merck" alone, and restraining [US] MSD's use of the trademark "MERCK" alone. The judge also held that MSD’s use of “Merck” as part of branding on its global websites were directed to the UK and infringed [German] Merck’s trade mark rights in the UK. . . .

Of course, this is just a small step in a seemingly endless series of legal maneuvers, so it won't cause either company much immediate benefit (or pain), as US Merck is already filing an appeal -- and countering (with its own suit) in the courts here. The German Merck, in a clear intensification of these spats, is reportedly now using the tag-line "the ORIGINAL Merck" -- even though it is about a third the US entity's size, by sales. Fascinating, and. . . onward!

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