The process of developing and bringing a drug to market is long and expensive, and from test tube to pharmacy, the competition for resources – including clinical trial participant and investor resources – is fierce. To better capture these resources, drug companies have started to “brand” their clinical trials with catchy names or acronyms evocative of study objectives or compounds, or with names more closely associated with the sponsor’s brand. For example, don’t you find “The AVIATOR Study” easier to remember than “Trastuzumab and Vinorelbine With Avelumab OR Avelumab & Utomilumab in Advanced HER2+ Breast Cancer?” Of equal import, if a clinical trial shows efficacy of the drug under study, any recognition of the trial name can be leveraged to garner funding for further research, or to steer patients and health practitioners to the drug when it’s brought to market.

Like any type of brand, it is wise to consider whether a term proposed for a clinical trial is available for use. While clinical trial names are not subject to the same FDA scrutiny as propriety drug names or trademarks, in the interest of source distinction and consumer safety, consider at least:

  • a search of the records of the USPTO (and other relevant registers and databases) for identical or confusingly similar marks for identical or confusingly similar goods and/or services; and
  • a search of for active/recruiting trials having the same or similar name for similar drugs/study objectives.

Keep in mind, too, that although clinical trial and related research services for a company’s own benefit are not eligible for registration, it may be possible to shore-up protection for the clinical trial brand by registering it as a trademark, domain name, and/or social media handle for providing information on the drug and condition under study to the public and other interested communities. And if the drug of the study is eventually approved, this same website can be used as a companion site or other marketing piece to direct patients and healthcare providers to the drug’s primary website, successfully building on that initial brand awareness to bridge the trial to the drug.

This article appeared in the May 2018 issue of MarkIt to Market. To view our past issues, as well as other firm newsletters, please click here.