Merck KGaA vs Merck & Co. (MSD): Which is “the real Merck”?

Believe it or not, there are 2 separate big names in the pharmaceutical industry which are both named “Merck”. This interesting fact sometimes leads to not-know-whether-to-laugh-or-cry confusion and misidentification, even for pharma workers. In this post, let’s find out with SEN Pharma about the story behind this billion-dollar name.

Dating back more than 350 years, in 1668, a German businessman Friedrich Jacob Merck bought the Angel Pharmacy in Darmstadt, the forerunner of the Merck Group’s headquarters today. In the following years, the company grew tremendously and supported the establishment of a branch in New Jersey, USA named Merck & Co. In 1891, another member of the Merck family, George Merck, ran the business.

After World War I, due to its supposed links to the German government, Merck & Co. was subject to expropriation in 1917. From then, the two companies became separate and completely unrelated. To be clear, the two sides came to a mutual agreement in 1955 (updated in 1970).

  • Accordingly, Merck KgaA (the largest company of the Merck Group) holds the global rights to the name and trademark “Merck”, except in the US and Canada, where this corporation must use other names (EMD Group).
  • In contrast, Merck & Co. is allowed to use the brand “Merck” in the two aforementioned countries but operates globally as “Merck Sharp & Dohme” (MSD). If we pay a little more attention, it can be easy to recognize the difference between these two companies’ logos.


  1. Merck and Merck & Co: dispute over digital global perception.
  2. In another round of Merck vs. Merck, Germany-based Merck KGaA notches a win in the U.K.
  3. Company-overview/history
  4. Legal proceedings concerning our brand. 
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
error: Content is protected !!