Trademark Infringement and Prescription Pills

A new wave of “pop” trademark infringement has been keeping the legal teams at some of the nations biggest drug companies busy. Who would of thought that the abuse of prescription drugs would become a hot way to market a product at high end retailers and restaurants but that is exactly what is currently happening in both Los Angeles and Chicago.

The makers of Xanax, Vicodin, and Adderall were recently prepared to bring a trademark infringement case at Kitson, a high-end fashion boutique marketed as a “celebrity hot spot”. The store’s website brags it is “renowned for its impressive celebrity clientele” naming celebrities like Heidi Klum and the Kardashian family as customers. Kitson has now deemed prescription pills a chic fashion statement by selling mens and women’s t-shirts and sweatshirts with the names Xanax, Vicodin, or Adderall scribbled across the back, modeled like a NFL sports jersey. The front of the shirts read “Pop one on and you’ll feel better,” not the message we want to be sending to our children. A quick check of the Kitson website reveals the Adderall model is no longer available but the Xanax and Vicodin versions are selling for $58/t-shirt and $98/sweatshirt. The company’s stance on the whole issue can be summed up by their statement: “Kitson will stop selling the t-shirts in question if tv networks agree to stop accepting ad revenue from prescription drug companies.”

Another brand name prescription drug, OxyContin, is making waves or should I say cocktails in Chicago. CH Distillery, a new bar in the West Loop area of the city, is now serving the OxyContin cocktail, a new take on the old drink with a not much better moniker, Penicillin. Purdue Pharma, the drug’s manufacturer, is still debating what action to take. The company’s senior director was quoted as saying “We object to any unlicensed use of our trademark.” With Purdue’s history of pursuing lawsuits over previous trademark infringement it would not be surprising to see something happening soon.

With more Americans dying every year from misuse of prescription painkillers than heroin and cocaine combined, it is a sad commentary on our pop-culture that making light of these drugs is considered “cool”. Similar cases, like one that occurred this June involving clothing retailer Urban Outfitters and various drinking glasses modeled to look like prescription pill bottles, have resulted in discontinuation of the products simply due to public outrage. Here’s hoping whatever legal action these drug companies decide to take will deter future businesses from attempting to exploit this issue for monetary gain in the future.

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