6 March 1899

Bayer first registers “Aspirin” as a trademark.

On 6 March 1899, the Imperial Patent Office in Berlin registers Aspirin, the brand name for acetylsalicylic acid, on behalf of the German pharmaceutical company Friedrich Bayer & Co.

Now the most common drug in household medicine cabinets, acetylsalicylic acid was originally made from a chemical found in the bark of willow trees. In its primitive form, the active ingredient, salicin, was used for centuries in folk medicine, beginning inancient Greece when Hippocrates used it to relieve pain and fever. Known to doctors since the mid-19thcentury, it was used sparingly due to its unpleasant taste and tendency to damage the stomach.

In 1897, Bayer employee Felix Hoffman found a way to create a stable form of the drug that was easier and more pleasant to take. After obtaining the patent rights, Bayer began distributing aspirin in powder form to physicians to give to their patients one gram at a time. The brand name came from “a” for acetyl, “spir” from the spirea plant and the suffix “in,” commonly used for medications. It quickly became the number-one drug worldwide.

Aspirin was made available in tablet form and without a prescription in 1915. Two years later, when Bayer’s patent expired during the First World War, the company lost the trademark rights to aspirin in various countries. After the United States entered the war against Germany in April 1917, the Alien Property Custodian, a government agency that administers foreign property, seized Bayer’s U.S. assets. Two years later, the Bayer company name and trademarks for the United States and Canada were auctioned off and purchased by Sterling Products Company, later Sterling Winthrop, for $5.3 million.

Bayer became part of IG Farben, the conglomerate of German chemical industries that formed the financial heart of the Nazi regime. After World War II, the Allies split apart IG Farben, and Bayer again emerged as an individual company. Its purchase of Miles Laboratories in 1978 gave it a product line including Alka-Seltzer and Flintstones and One-A-Day Vitamins. In 1994, Bayer bought Sterling Winthrop’s over-the-counter business, gaining back rights to the Bayer name and logo and allowing the company once again to profit from American sales of its most famous product.

6 March 1899

The pharmaceutical company, Bayer, first registers “Aspirin” as a trademark.

Bayer AG was founded in Germany by Friederich Bayer in 1863. The pharmaceuticals company’s first major product was acetylsalicylic acid, which is derived from a remedy found in willow plant bark. It was discovered that acetylsalicylic acid could be used as an anti-inflammatory medication, as well as for minor pain/ache relief and fever reduction. Today acetylsalicylic acid is known as aspirin.

On this day, March 6th, in 1899, Bayer registers aspirin as a trademark. Bayer’s trademark was registered worldwide, but the company’s U.S. assets and trademarks were confiscated by the the United States during World War I. As a result, aspirin became the generic term to describe the drug for all brands in the U.S., France and the United Kingdom. Aspirin remains a trademark for Bayer in over seventy other countries.

Aspirin is currently one of the most used over-the-counter drugs in the world. Several other benefits of aspirin have been discovered, such as its effective treatment of headaches and its long term benefits of heart attack and stroke prevention. Although Bayer may have lost its trademark of the Aspirin name, the company’s contribution to the pharmaceutical industry is not tarnished.