Trademark owners in the cannabis field keep trying new ways to register their marks, and who can blame them? Branding is everything in an increasingly online world, and protecting your brand’s reputation is paramount to staying in business, especially when you operate in an industry mired in legal grey areas. The cannabis industry is growing

As we previously reported, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a trademark examination guide last year, broadening the class of cannabis-related goods for which cannabis companies could register their trademarks. The examination guide explained that, because certain hemp-based products with less than 0.3% THC–including CBD–are no longer controlled substances under the

On January 1, 2020, the recreational use of marijuana will be legal under Illinois law. With the formal enactment of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, it is expected that numerous new companies will be gearing up to enter the Prairie State’s burgeoning cannabis market. As with any new business, one of the first things for owners to consider is the company’s brand, what it will be called and how best to protect it from would-be infringers.
Continue Reading Brand Protection for Illinois’ Budding Cannabis Industry

Federal trademark registrations are now possible to obtain for some hemp-related trademarks.  The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) recent guidance, Examination Guide 1-19  “Examination of Marks for Cannabis and Cannabis-Related Goods and Services after Enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill” issued on May 2, 2019 (Guide 1-19), clarifies the procedure for examining applications for marks covering cannabis and cannabis-derived goods and services in light of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334 (also known as the “2018 Farm Bill”).  Guide 1-19 does not change the requirements for obtaining a trademark registration, but instead explains that hemp-related federal trademark registrations (in certain instances) are not barred as a matter of law. 
Continue Reading USPTO Allows Hemp-related Trademarks on or after December 20, 2018

It is well known that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) does not allow federal registration for cannabis-related trademarks (discussed by this blog here and here). Some commenters have speculated that, because courts have been chipping away at the bans on immoral, scandalous, and disparaging trademarks, the ban on federal trademark registrations related to illegal activity may be next.
Continue Reading Likely to be Dazed and Confused: the Hazy Future of Cannabis-related Trademarks

Strong intellectual property is the cornerstone of most start-up companies, and in most cases it is the key asset utilized by companies in securing financing and investment.  Studies have estimated that non-tangible assets represent over 80% of an average business’ value, and when it comes to startups, the number is even higher.[1]  The marijuana industry, because of its uncertain legal status under federal law, is at a strategic disadvantage, but despite this fact, the industry has still continued to blossom and is currently valued at $6.7 B and is expected to rise to almost $20 B by 2020.[2]  However, failure to secure traditional forms of intellectual property (i.e., patents, trademarks, and copyrights) should not dissuade marijuana entrepreneurs from the inherent value intellectual property.  Developing a keen business strategy around both traditional and non-traditional forms of intellectual property can open the door to additional revenue opportunities.
Continue Reading Unharvested Opportunities for the Marijuana Industry – Exploiting Non-Traditional Forms of Intellectual Property

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB” or the “Board”) recently affirmed two refusals to register trademarks:

1) an intent-to-use trademark application for POWERED BY JUJU for “smokeless cannabis vaporizing apparatus, namely, oral vaporizers for smoking purposes; vaporizing cannabis delivery device, namely, oral vaporizers for smoking purposes”, initially refused based on a lack of bona fide intent to use the mark in lawful commerce; and

2) a use-based application for JUJU JOINTS for “smokeless marijuana or cannabis vaporizer apparatus, namely, oral vaporizers for smokers; vaporizing marijuana or cannabis delivery device, namely, oral vaporizers for smoking purposes”, initially refused based on lack of lawful use in U.S. commerce.
Continue Reading Bad JuJu: No Federal Trademark Protection for Marks Covering Marijuana Vaporizers

Earlier this month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) issued a decision that presents relevant considerations for those in the fast-growing marijuana industry.  In the decision (In re Morgan Brown), the TTAB affirmed the rejection of a service mark application to register the below HERBAL ACCESS & Design mark in connection with “retail store services featuring herbs” because the TTAB found that the mark was actually being used in connection with the sale of marijuana.

herbalaccess


Continue Reading Marijuana Trademark Registration Strategies – July 2016 Update