Posts Tagged: "Cannabis"

Curbing Cannabis Copycats: How to Protect Your Brand’s Reputation as Marijuana Companies Try to Make Their Mark

To capture attention in the crowded new field of cannabis-related goods and services, many companies are using other companies’ brands to promote their goods and services, including puns in the edibles space. Not surprisingly, brand owners are responding with lawsuits, alleging trademark infringement, dilution, and unfair competition among other claims. The focus of these lawsuits is generally quick injunctive relief to stop harm to the brand, rather than damages. This makes sense because of the uncertainty of collecting from companies who do not rely on the traditional finance services industry. But injunctive relief is not guaranteed without demonstrating the four preliminary injunction factors: (1) likelihood of success on the merits, (2) likelihood of irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, (3) the balance of equities, and (4) the public interest. This article focuses on the first two of these factors.

Patenting Cannabis: Possibilities and Pitfalls

With cannabis now legal in some form across more than 30 states, the cannabis industry is on the rise and expected to achieve a market size of more than $60 billion by the end of 2025. As with any new and growing industry, intellectual property protection will be central to innovation and investment. Several unique challenges emerge at the intersection of cannabis and intellectual property law, the first of which is obtaining protection for a cannabis-related business or invention. Two characteristics of cannabis make intellectual property protection challenging—its status as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act and the fact that many cannabis species are naturally-occurring. Applications for cannabis trademarks, for instance, have encountered resistance at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) due to cannabis’s illegal status under federal law. Unlike trademarks, however, a patent does not require an applicant to show that the product is lawfully used in interstate commerce. Rather, a patent provides the right to exclude others from the invention, and there is nothing unlawful about obtaining such a right.

Recent Insights into Cannabis-Related IP Rights in Brazil

The authorization of consumption of Cannabis derivative products in several countries has led to the rapid development of a robust industry around such products. However, Brazilian legislation is still conservative concerning the sale, production, and use of cannabis derivative products, all of which are currently prevented by Brazilian law and defined as both civil and criminal offenses. But despite Brazil’s restrictive position concerning the permission of production and selling of cannabis-related products, the country is now taking baby steps towards the legalization of some aspects of the use and sale of cannabis products, putting the country at the center of discussions around this topic.

CBD Wins with USPTO’s New Examination Guide for Cannabis Marks, but Lawful Use Requirements Remain Intact

On May 2, 2019, the USPTO issued a new examination guide titled “Examination of Marks for Cannabis and Cannabis-Related Goods and Services after Enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill.” A hasty reader may have assumed that this guide would offer options for the cannabis business whose federal trademark applications have been thwarted by the lawful use requirement, but this is not the case.The lawful use requirement, as explained by the USPTO, mandates that “use of a mark in commerce must be lawful use to be the basis for federal registration of the mark.” TMEP §907, citing to 37 C.F.R. §2.69 and §§1, 45 of the Lanham Act. In other words, if a product cannot be legally sold in interstate commerce then, according to the USPTO, the mark cannot be used legally in interstate commerce and, lacking trademark use, the trademark cannot be registered. Alas, the new examination guide only allows federal trademark registrations under very narrow circumstances. Under Sections 6 and 297A of the Farm Bill 2018, “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis” are removed from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). In effect, these plants and their parts have become legal. Similarly, cannabidiol—commonly referred to as CBD—and those CBD products that have very low THC content, have become legal under the CSA. Being legal under the CSA means that these products can be legally sold in interstate commerce.

An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Navigating California’s Complex Cannabis Industry

As of now, ten states have legalized recreational cannabis. Twenty-one other states allow medicinal use of cannabis, many of which are expected to legalize recreational cannabis in the near future. Investors have sunk an estimated $10 billion into cannabis-related businesses in 2018, an amount that is expected to reach $16 billion this year. The fast spreading legalization of cannabis presents a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs, businesses and investors to get in on the “ground floor” of this growing market. California, as the largest single market for legalized Cannabis in North America, has attracted outsized attention from potential investors, who also see the state’s legalization as a trend setter for other states. However, would be investors in the California cannabis market often find themselves in a maze of complicated and changing licensing rules and regulations, banking challenges and uncertainties, choice of the appropriate business structure, and protection of potential intellectual property (IP).

U.S. Cannabis Inventions on the Rise As Legal Marijuana Market Grows

The shifting status of marijuana from an illegal controlled substance to regulated medicinal product to, in some jurisdictions, legalized recreational activity has created a market that promises to be incredibly valuable in the years to come. An April 2018 report from Grand View Research predicted the global market for legal marijuana products to exceed $146 billion by the year 2025. A 2018 cannabis report by Deloitte forecast Canada’s cannabis market to reach $7.17 billion in total sales during 2019, including $4.34 billion in sales of legal marijuana products. In the U.S., 2017 sales of legal recreational and medicinal marijuana products resulted in revenues of up to $6.6 billion, a fraction of the estimated $50 billion to $55 billion of total U.S. demand for recreational cannabis products. Last year, Reuters reported that the USPTO issued 39 patents containing the word cannabis during 2018 through late November. The USPTO only issued 29 such patents during 2017 and 14 during 2016.

The Complicated Relationship Between IP Law & Cannabis

For the innovators capitalizing on the legal growth, distribution, and commercial sale of cannabis, the procurement of intellectual property rights can go a long way in the monetization of their ideas, products, and services. As with any new venture, solidifying an IP protection strategy early on can maximize the benefits of a new invention and minimize risk the of potential infringement. This rings especially true in a field where so few patents, copyrights, and trademarks have been issued… It is not impossible to secure IP rights on cannabis-related inventions, but there are a number of factors to consider and a number of complexities to be aware of.

As cannabis patent filings increase, are food and beverage companies positioned to benefit?

Early protection of intellectual property rights is a critical component in any business’ efforts to secure a competitive advantage in the marketplace. A recent report has found that patenting activity for cannabis food and drink has seen a large increase in global activity, in the last five years. 242 simple patent families have been filed in 2015, up from only 144 simple patent families filed in 2012. However, not a single food and beverage company was found to be among the top 10 applicants. Is this a sign that food and beverage companies are not well positioned to benefit from ongoing cannabis legalisation?

United Cannabis Responds: Highly enriched extracts of plant cannabinoids are inventive

I note that the ‘911 patent claims are novel and inventive because they are directed to never before made liquid formulations of highly enriched extracts of plant cannabinoids. While I believe all thirty-six claims of the ‘911 patent are valid and enforceable, as did the patent examiner who issued the patent, the number and breadth of our claims gives United Cannabis safety in numbers if and when it should become necessary to defend our rights.

Cannabis Extract Patent Assertion Underscores Issue of Limited Prior Art for Marijuana Inventions

The suit, filed in the District of Colorado, involves the assertion of cannabis patent claims covering liquid formulations of highly enriched extracts of plant cannabinoids… United Cannabis alleges that Pure Hemp has engaged in willful infringement of the ‘911 patent. Pure Hemp’s Vina Bell 5000mg product, which was purchased and tested for chemical composition by United Cannabis, contains a cannabinoid formulation which allegedly infringe upon at least claim 10 of the ‘911 patent, which claims a cannabinoid formulation wherein at least 95 percent of the cannabinoids is cannabidiol (CBD). United Cannabis attempted to engage Pure Hemp in licensing discussions in early May of this year but Pure Hemp continues to sell the allegedly infringing products without a license.

Navigating the Maze of International Cannabis Trademarks

Some have dubbed it the modern-day gold rush while skeptics warn of the hostile attitude of the current administration in Washington D.C. Whatever the view there is no denying that the marijuana legalization landscape is contentious and demands attention, including from trademark attorneys who will increasingly see their clients interested in cannabis related business activities, and consequently in obtaining cannabis trademarks.

Schedule I status for marijuana prompts TTAB to deny trademark registration for JUJU Joints

A decision to deny trademark registration for two marks to be used on marijuana related goods was handed down in late October by the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. On October 27th, a TTAB judicial panel decided In re JJ206, LLC by refusing to register two trademarks which were being sought by JUJU Joints, a developer of pre-loaded cannabis oil devices. TTAB affirmed trademark examiner decisions that two standard character marks, “POWERED BY JUJU” and “JUJU JOINTS” cannot be registered for federal trademark protection “because Applicant’s identified goods constitute illegal drug paraphernalia under the [Controlled Substances Act].” JUJU Joints was seeking to use the marks in commerce for goods such as smokeless cannabis vaporizing apparatuses and cannabis delivery devices.

How Can You Protect Cannabis-based Intellectual Property Under Federal Prohibition?

What started as a curiosity in Colorado and Washington state in 2012 could have gained the momentum of a juggernaut: marijuana legalization. Now with California and other states passing initiatives to fully legalize recreational marijuana use in November 2016, a new multi-billion-dollar industry could be in the offing. Inventors are already at work on new methods of delivering THC in stronger and safer doses… But with cannabis still on the federal DEA Schedule I of controlled substances what can these idea people do to protect their intellectual property?… Ironically, the USTPO has granted a patent on certain cannabis strains to a California biotech institute even as it has disallowed marijuana-related trademarks.