The first cannabis patent claim ever litigated in federal court just cleared a hurdle this month.
In United Cannabis Corp. v. Pure Hemp, a cannabis company in Golden is suing a Conifer-based company for patent infringement. The plaintiff, UCANN for short, alleges the defendant infringed on its patent for liquid cannabinoid formulations, but Pure Hemp contests that those patent claims are invalid.
On April 17, U.S. District Judge William Martinez rejected Pure Hemp’s arguments that the patent claims are directed toward patent-ineligible natural phenomena. Denying Pure Hemp’s early motion for partial summary judgment, Martinez determined that UCANN’s patent is instead directed to a manmade delivery method of naturally occurring chemicals, and in “non-naturally occurring proportions and concentrations.”
While the decision is an encouraging sign for cannabis patent owners, UCANN v. Pure Hemp remains a closely watched test case for the marijuana industry, and the patent’s validity isn’t yet settled.
UCANN’s patent in question is patent number 9,730,911, also referred to as 911, which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted in August 2017. The 911 patent’s claims are broad. It covers “formulations in which at least 95% of the total cannabinoids” is a specific cannabinoid — that is, cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, THC or a mixture of both. The claim isn’t limited to a specific purpose or use for the formulation, or even a particular process for creating it.
UCANN filed a lawsuit against Pure Hemp in July claiming the wellness company sells CBD products that infringe upon the 911 patent. In its complaint, UCANN said it ran tests on Pure Hemp’s “Vina Bell” hemp extract oil and found that its chemical formulations were covered by 911.