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Pfizer appeals against Viagra trademark ruling in China

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc. PFE.N has filed an appeal after losing a lawsuit over the Chinese name for its impotence treatment Viagra, the U.S. drugmaker said in a statement on Wednesday.

Pfizer, the world’s largest drugmaker, sued a Chinese firm over its usage of the brand “Wei Ge” or “Mighty Brother” in November 2005, but lost the case last month, Pfizer said.

Welman, the Chinese drug company, had applied to register the brand name in 1998, the year Pfizer launched the blockbuster in the United States. Pfizer gained its Chinese patent for Viagra in 2001.

Pfizer said the ruling by the Beijing First Intermediate People’s Court failed to support Chinese efforts to create an environment for companies bringing new medicines to China, adding that it had full trust in the country’s judiciary system.

The Chinese translation of the drug has been directly linked to Viagra in media reports since the drug was invented in 1998, Pfizer said previously.

The U.S. firm won a trademark suit versus Welman over the shape of the rhomboid blue pills at the end of last year, following a successful suit last June regarding the use patent for the active ingredient in the blockbuster drug.

Pfizer does not disclose sales figures for Viagra in China, but global sales of the drug rose 5 percent to $423 million in the fourth quarter, pressured by the growing popularity of Eli Lilly's LLY.N erectile dysfunction drug Cialis.

The pharmaceutical market in China has boomed in recent years. Sales are expected to grow by 15 to 16 percent to at least $15 billion in 2007, according to pharmaceutical information firm IMS Health Inc. RX.N.

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