THC Trademarks

The odd state of legal affairs for intellectual property in the cannabis industry

Purple Cream, Durban Cheese, Cherry Pie and K Train have all made the cut as marijuana products. Hasheath, Girl Scout Cookies, Gorilla Glue and Honest Herbal, however, have not.

In the last few years, as states have legalized and begun to regulate marijuana, a few cannabis companies have run into branding conflicts with original namesakes. Hershey Co. settled with TinctureBelle in 2014, a Colorado Springs company that produced marijuana edibles with the likeness of Hershey products like Reeses, Almond Joy and Health.

Though these types of issues are business as usual in the intellectual property practice, for cannabis companies, developing branding, trademarks and patents on products is a new world, but an important part of a developing business. And as with other small startups, working through the first steps of marketing and research and development includes an understanding of those legal processes.

But its an odd state of affairs for the cannabis industry when it comes to intellectual property protections, as gaps in state and federal law force businesses to maneuver around disparate regulations. States like Colorado or Washington will grant trademark protections to cannabis products used in commerce, but it is geographically limited.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the October 9, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.