The Brazilian National Agency of Sanitary Surveillance ("ANVISA") has released new rules regarding pharmaceutical names/trademarks.

According to the new rules, pharmaceutical companies will be allowed to create a family of drugs with a common name (the "base name"). To be included in the family, all drugs must have at least one common pharmaceutical raw material. Each drug in the family will carry the base name and a distinctive name, which must be a non-exclusive name.

A previous rule, which was revoked, established that companies could use names that were similar to other registered names if they had at least 3 different letters. The new rules will not affect, automatically, drug names previously registered with the ANVISA. Nevertheless, the ANVISA may order a name change if it determines after an administrative proceeding that (i) an irregularity has occurred when the name was first registered or (ii) the name could cause confusion among consumers.

Regardless of these new rules, all intellectual property laws dealing with trademarks in Brazil remain in force. Thus, individuals or legal entities may apply for trademark registrations before the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office. Furthermore, visually perceptible distinctive signs can still be registered as trademarks.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.