With reference to pharmaceuticals, a resounding yes! Patent rights and rules of law specify the marketing for branded pharmaceuticals vis-à-vis generics. That is well within the province of intellectual property and patent rights. The real issues are life-threatening drugs that are kept under patent rights to the detriment of the populace. There should be no law that undermines human survival.
When it comes to products and services, everything becomes generic unless a specific and innovative technology is used. Take the case of Apple and its innovations like the iPhone. The technology presented, plus its brand title as an Apple product, delivers the brand promise and has the integrity; copies from where ever are alleged imitations (case in point—Apple vis-à-vis Samsung). Counterfeiting is the illegal use of brand titles for generic products produced and sold in the marketplace under the same brand titles.
Technology is not exclusive in this world, and it is difficult to protect intellectual property from reverse engineering. Case in point is the “Android software now available on all other cell phones.” The legal battle rages with the results of creative juices from techies that produced technological features once exclusive to the iPhone now common wear. This leaves us with the question: are generic freeware and brand restrictions merely secondary? What exactly can be patented in technology today? Morally, stealing is the issue, yet technology and scientific discoveries should be made available to everyone, especially for medicine (but this may not necessarily be the rule of law).
The issue with branding, however, is all about integrity, and branding is all about integrity and the deliverables. A higher price is not necessarily the exclusive attribute for branded products. Higher prices can, however, command a perceived quality.
Take Chanel’ for example; while there are multiple scents available, the brand and its scent that is delivered is exclusive to Channel’. But Chanel’ is the brand! The same is true with clothes and apparel. And designs can become generic like jeans (dungarees or maongs); jeans are jeans and yet branded jeans sell for more (Valentinos, Guess, Levi’s, Wrangler . . .).
There are laws and rules for engagement when it comes to generics, but there will always be brand loyalists. Yet to continue receiving and building on that brand loyalty, brand custodians must be continually vigilant. That is what successful brand management is all about. With proper vigilance, regardless of discounts, generic appearance and usage, replacements and counterfeits, brand loyalists will continue to patronize a specific brand. They will do so because of the brand experience that successfully fills their aspirations.
Replacements or knockoffs don’t fulfill the experience delivered by a genuine Louis Vuitton. Nor can a replacement satisfy a customer’s thirst for a genuine Rolex. Product replacements/knockoffs, sometimes, can provide the same service and quality as the “real thing.” But they don’t deliver the same brand experience.