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A promotional campaign has sparked a legal dispute between Spark Therapeutics and Bluebird Bio (BLUE) over the use of a single word: spark.

As Bluebird works toward winning U.S. regulatory approval for a gene therapy to combat sickle cell disease, the company created a website and videos designed to provide greater awareness of the illness. And its effort uses such slogans as “Let’s Spark Change in Sickle Cell” and “Be the Spark.” The company is also seeking four trademarks for “I AM THE SPARK” and “SPARK CHANGE,” among other phrases.


But Spark Therapeutics, which is developing a treatment for hemophilia, another blood disorder, claimed that Bluebird has “misappropriated and diluted” the Spark name. In its lawsuit, Spark argued that sickle cell anemia is researched and treated by the same physicians and scientists who work on hemophilia, and that its name is also well known among rare disease advocacy groups.

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