Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The Use of A Registered Trademark for Heroin...

Heroin labeled as "Theraflu".  Photo source:  Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office;  x-ref:  http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2014/01/30/2-arrested-in-connection-with-theraflu-heroin/

The recent spate of overdose deaths from the use of a tainted strain of heroin labeled as "Theraflu" have been horrific.  The additional death this past weekend of Academy Award winning actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, from a heroin overdose adds an even more ominous tone to this unfortunate ongoing storyline.

A separate issue from a trademark perspective concerns the use by the purveyors of the tainted heroin labeled as "Theraflu" and the fact that this is also the brand name and registered U.S. Federal Trademark owned by Novartis for cold medicine, namely, THERAFLU®.

Above is the official Theraflu® logo belonging to Novartis for its cough and cold medicine; Used here as a fair use for scholarly and academic purposes.  The Theraflu logo and trademark are the property of Novartis AG Corp.

Below is partial extract of the current USPTO "TESS" record of this trademark registration:

Word Mark    THERAFLU
Goods and Services    IC 005. COUGH AND COLD PREPARATION. FIRST USE: 19861030. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19861030
Mark Drawing Code    (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number    73637147
Filing Date    December 24, 1986

Published for Opposition     May 26, 1987
Registration Number    1452879
Registration Date    August 18, 1987

Assignment Recorded    ASSIGNMENT RECORDED

Type of Mark    TRADEMARK
Register    PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text    SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR). SECTION 8(10-YR) 20070911.
Renewal    1ST RENEWAL 20070911
Live/Dead Indicator    LIVE


A January 30, 2014, article published by the CBS affiliate in Pittsburth, PA, at:


indicates that there have been 22 deaths to date due to overdoses of the Theraflu fentanyl-laced heroin.  This underscores the seriousness of this epidemic of drug overdoses, which may well continue until word gets out on the street and the media as to this insidiously poisonous strain of heroin.  Fentanyl, a prescription painkiller, is said by itself to be 70 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.

On the other hand, what is going on in the mind of the consumer of cold medicine that seeks relief from the common cold and the seasonal flu and who might otherwise select the authentic Novartis owned cold remedy, THERAFLU®?  Will there be confusion?  Perhaps amongst some people there could be.  And what of the disparagement of the brand and the trademark?  The packaging and distribution of a killer strain of heroin by the same name cannot be good for the brand owned by Novartis.  Novartis even owns the internet domain name registration for Theraflu.com and has a whole website devoted to this product:


It is one thing to be able to target a known counterfeiter but the successful effort to eradicate a scourge such as this deadly strain of heroin is going to require the combined efforts of Federal and State resources and law enforcement, the media, as well as the efforts of Novartis in terms of its legal remedies and public relations strategy.

There is also little doubt that the use of Theraflu as the name for this lethal strain of heroin has already tarnished and is going to continue to negatively impact the Novartis brand and trademark, THERAFLU®.  The financial fallout and negative impact on the brand value of THEAFLU® is likely going to depend on how long this illegal strain of heroin continues to be distributed on the black market.

As this story develops, we shall endeavor to include links to media and other public information that is posted online.


Additional Links/Comments:

•  The Brutal Business Of Heroin Brings Wave Of Overdoses In Pa.



RATH: That's Dr. Neil Capretto. He's the medical director at the Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh. He says dealers have stamped the drug with a street name Theraflu. Dr. Capretto says that is no accident.

CAPRETTO: Well, what does the product Theraflu treat? Flu symptoms, cold symptoms. What does going through opium or heroin withdrawal feel like? It feels like a very bad case of the flu multiplied times 10. They call it dope sickness. So it's basically marketing. We will treat your withdrawal symptoms if you're, quote, "dope sick" with this Theraflu.

(excerpted for fair use purposes only)


•  Theraflu - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Misuse of name

In 2014, several people in Pennsylvania died after overdosing on a mixture of heroin and fentanyl, 2 powerful narcotics that had been mislabeled (on the street) as "Theraflu."


Respectfully submitted,

William E. Maguire
Santa Monica, Calif.

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