International Non-proprietary Names (INN) identifies pharmaceutical substances or active pharmaceutical ingredients. Each INN is a unique name that is globally recognized and is public property. A non-proprietary name is also known as a generic name.
Non-proprietary names are intended for use in pharmacopeias, labeling, product information, advertising and other promotional material, drug regulation, and scientific literature, and as a basis for product names, e.g. for generics. Their use is normally required by national or, as in the case of the European Community, by international legislation
The aim of the INN system is to provide the drugs and pharmaceutical products with a unique and universally available designated name for easy identification.
INN is important for the easy and precise identification, accurate prescription and non-erroneous dispensing of medicines to patients, and for hassle-free communication and exchange of information among medical team across the globe.
INN has to be distinctive in sound and spelling, and should not cause confusion/ misperception with other names in common use. For easy access to the Names, they have been formally placed by WHO in the public domain. They can be used without any restraint whatsoever to recognise pharmaceutical elements.
The increasing coverage of the drug-name area by INN has led to the situation whereby the majority of pharmaceutical substances used today in medical practice are designated by an INN.
Registration of INNs as trademarks is strictly prohibited under the Indian Trademark Act, 1999. Statutorily speaking, Section 13 of the Act places a clear legal restraint on the registration of words as trademarks that are declared and notified by World Health Organisation (WHO) as INN or deceptively similar to such names. The Act further states via Section 57 that any such registration (INN names) if done in the register shall be deemed to be registered without sufficient cause or merits and shall be termed an entry wrongly made as the circumstances may require.
The list of INN as declared by the registry shall aid the agents and applicants in assessing their trademark application before filing them that shall obviate the legal disputes that may arise due to such registration. This step would help them save time, cost, and effort. It is pertinent to note that Already Registered INN are still in the ambit of threat of all legal consequences that may arise due to the registration as these registrations van be challenged or opposed by public interest groups or registrar or any interested person.