U.S. drugmaker Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is fighting a decision by a Chinese government agency that would effectively strip the company of exclusivity for its OneTouch trademark of diabetes monitoring products, according to a report from Reuters Thursday. The ruling, undertaken by the Chinese State Administration for Industry and Commerce (or, SAIC) would allow other firms to sell the knockoff products under the same name. The government agency decided to retract Johnson & Johnson’s OneTouch trademark after a Chinese company, Guilin Zhonghui Biotechnology Co. applied to have it cancelled, Johnson & Johnson said, per Reuters. Apparently, the decision to cancel the trademark was made in December.
“We are pleased with the decision made by the brand bureau,” said Huang Yunzhong, the lawyer for Guilin Zhonghui who lead the case. “Johnson & Johnson has no right to deprive the use of such a common phrase,” Huang said. Guilin Zhonghui has faced financial difficulties in the past due to its legal battles with the American drugmaker.
“Johnson & Johnson, which has invested in the Chinese market under this brand for almost 10 years, is extremely shocked by the decision and is very disappointed,” the company said in a statement. ”We will go through any judicial measure to protect our OneTouch trademark and legal rights,” the Johnson & Johnson statement continued, per Reuters and the Wall Street Journal. The company has said that copycat versions of its products have become a health hazard for diabetes patients.
China currently has the largest number of diabetes patients in the world, and spending on diabetes in China is expected to rise in the next few decades; according to estimates from the International Diabetes Federation, approximately $25 billion in medical expenditures is spent each year in China. At the current rate, the number of cases is expected to reach 142.7 million by 2035. According to a recent study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association an estimated 113.9 million Chinese citizens currently have diabetes or show early signs of the disease, per the Wall Street Journal.
Johnson & Johnson is not the first international company to challenge the Chinese agency over trademark disagreements. In November, Burberry duked it out with the Chinese agency, after it made a decision which would have canceled the British luxury brand’s trademark for its iconic beige-black-and-red tartan on the company’s leather goods in China.
Similarly, in 2012 tech giant Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) spent $60 million to put an end to a trademark dispute regarding its iPad tablet. Apparently, the current dispute between Giulin Zhongui Biotechnology and Johnson & Johnson has been ongoing since 2007.