Monday, November 23, 2015

Merck KGaA buys SigmaAldrich

IPBiz notes the completion of the purchase of SigmaAldrich by MerckKGaA, the German company, which company is distinct from the company known as Merck in the United States:

Sigma-Aldrich will be combined into Merck KGaA's EMD Millipore business unit, forming a new subsidiary that will be called MilliporeSigma.

The "Aldrich" name, so familiar to organic chemists, vanishes in the name of the new subsidiary.

One recalls some previous discussion of the difference between the US Merck and the German Merck, which separation arose as a result of World War I.

From an IPBiz post on April 21, 2005 [ O'Connor, Breyer back in Merck v. Integra ]:

O'Connor asked the first question, as is often the case, and she and Breyer were among the most active participants. Both, it appeared to many, seemed sympathetic to Merck, and their presence might, in fact, tip the decision toward Merck.

Were the justices cravenly trying to protect their financial interests by rejoining the case? No such scandal was brewing. It turns out that soon after the justices' recusal in January, Merck's lawyer in the case, E. Joshua Rosenkranz of New York City's Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe, sent a letter to the clerk of the Supreme Court to "address a possible misunderstanding" about Merck's name and corporate structure.

Rosenkranz went on to say that while Merck & Co. -- the U.S. firm in which the justices owned stock -- and Merck KgaA -- the German firm that is the party in the case before the Court -- "share a common ancestry," they are now "entirely separate entities," and have been since 1917. The German company, he explained, owns worldwide rights to the Merck name except in North America. Both companies got their names from Heinrich Emanuel Merck, an early German industrialist, but the American subsidiary became separate after World War I.

A former clerk to the late Justice William Brennan Jr., Rosenkranz wrote delicately about the subject, noting that both justices owned stock in the American Merck and adding, "While the recusals may have been prompted by other circumstances, I wanted to be sure to alert the Court to this potential misunderstanding."


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