Co-authored by Ruth Fisher, PhD

The following post explores the bioavailability and efficacy of various cannabis products, followed by a brief overview of the legal protection afforded to each as an intellectual property asset.

Over the millennia, our bodies have evolved to better protect themselves. Protection from outside our bodies comes from our skin, which creates a barrier that’s quite difficult to penetrate by most foreign substances (pathogens). Protection from within our bodies comes from barriers (epithelial tissues) that line all our internal organs and pathways, to make sure nothing penetrates areas it should not. The result of all this protection is that it can be difficult for cannabis substances to penetrate our bodies and travel to the sites needed to generate their effects.

Continue Reading Technologies for Enhancing Cannabis Bioavailability and Their Legal Methods of Protection

Despite legislative uncertainty (e.g., bills that have been passed, multiple times, but not become law), a wide range of brilliant entrepreneurs, industrial companies, investment mavens, and service providers have been consciously and conscientiously advancing the US cannabis industry’s interests.

MJBizCon and CannaVest West are proof positive – the breadth, depth, and sophistication of cannabis-related products, services, and innovations on display was truly staggering.

Continue Reading Flowers, Gummies & An IP Lawyer’s Impressions of MJBizCon

The state of intellectual property is in flux within the cannabis industry. On the eve of MJBizCon, below is a brief inventory of where the law stands on cannabis-related issues for branding and technology.

Branding

Federal trademark registrations remain unavailable to conventional cannabis companies, but there are several work arounds and caveats.

Work Arounds:

The general rule is that

Continue Reading Intellectual Property and Cannabis – Where do we Stand?

A recent federal appeals court decision has shed light on the legal status of delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (“delta-8 THC”) and its implications for cannabis brand owners.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that delta-8 THC falls squarely within the definition of “hemp” under the 2018 Farm Act, and is therefore lawful, despite its psychoactive properties.  Cannabis
Continue Reading Delta-8 THC Offers a Path to Trademark Protection

The buzz of the cannabis industry has brought with it significant competition. The “green rush” of legalization produced a small group of legitimate competitors in both the consumable and pipe spaces. It is no surprise, then, that innovative companies protected their technology and did everything they could to box out their competition. The industry can expect more of the same as competitors fight for market share in a business ripe for explosion.

This post will examine the three most common forms of patent protection found in the cannabis industry, and an example of where each was litigated.
Continue Reading Patent Enforcement in the Cannabis Industry – Litigation Heats Up as Competitors Jockey for Market Position

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 and the laws are constantly
Continue Reading Yes, Really: The TTAB Affirms That the USPTO Will Not Register Marks for Illegal Goods

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 Controlled Substances Act (CSA), companies

Continue Reading Don’t Rush to Apply for that CBD Trademark Just Yet!

Maine is on track to launch its first recreational marijuana businesses in June, four years after its residents voted in favor of legalization. A year ago, Maine created an Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) within its Department of Administrative and Financial Services. The OMP handles all licensing, compliance, and oversight of medical and recreational use of marijuana. In
Continue Reading Maine Considers Trade Secret Protection for Cannabis Companies

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