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A tale of two Mercks: a guide for confused protestors

By Fiona BARRY , 18-Feb-2014
Last updated on 18-Feb-2014 at 17:44 GMT

Despite splintering into rival companies a century ago, Merck & Co. and Merck KGaA have once again been subject to mistaken identity, after protestors accidentally picketed the latter’s London offices.

Our timeline traces the origins of the companies, from a 17th-century German apothecary to competing multinationals.

Earlier this month, protestors from the Student Stop Aids campaign mistakenly protested outside the wrong premises against Merck & Co.’s leaked plans to lobby against relaxing patent laws in South Africa.

A spokesman for Merck KGaA, whose UK headquarters were incorrectly targeted for protest, told that a solution to the continued public confusion would need “creativity from both sides.”

“Both companies have the legacy of Merck. We have [had] it for almost 350 years, MSD has it for almost 100 years. Confusion should not happen, as outside of the US and Canada, we are the company that has the rights on the name Merck,” he said.

“However, as it does still happen obviously – and by the way increasingly since the times of the internet – we will need to find ways to solve the issue, it just requires some creativity from both sides.”

Nevertheless, he added, Merck KGaA did not consider the event “negative publicity,” as “the wrong company was addressed. The activists even apologized for that.”

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