People often think that IP in the healthcare sector is all about patents. But while GlaxoSmithKline certainly has a patent portfolio to protect, it also takes a strident approach to enforcing its trademarks and defending its brands.
In the UK, and in much of the rest of the world, GSK products are ubiquitous. And it’s not just patented pharmaceuticals you’re likely to have come across. British customers will be familiar with products as diverse as Lucozade sports health drink and Aquafresh toothpaste. In the US, stomach remedy Tums is a big seller, while malt powdered-drink Horlicks is India’s sixth-most trusted brand.
Managing and protecting the trademarks associated with these brands is Emma Stopford’s job. As GSK's vice president for Consumer Heathcare Trademarks, she manages a permanent team of three attorneys and seven paralegals, split between London and Philadelphia. They look after more than 25,000 trademarks for the consumer healthcare business.
Many are available over the counter (though some used to be prescription-only and others are available on both tracks) such as analgesics and recently, the weight-loss drug, alli.