The more brands that enter a given market, the more important their trademarks become. In the booming legal cannabis market, however, registering a trademark at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office remains a dodgy proposition as marijuana remains generally illegal under federal law.
But as the cannabis industry saw at the end of 2018, the federal government is making an exception for hemp products, and federal trademarking will follow suit.
Last month the USPTO confirmed it is indeed opening the door to federal trademarks for some cannabidiol and hemp-derived products. The Farm Bill of 2018, enacted December 20, is best known for removing hemp from the list of Schedule 1 drugs under the Controlled Substances Act. The bill defined hemp as a cannabis sativa-derived product with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration (THC) of no more than 0.3%.
The USPTO’s May 2 guidelines clarified that cannabis trademarks will be eligible for trademark registration if they’re for goods and services that aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and don’t fall under the CSA’s definition or marijuana.
The guidance comes as the USPTO is already receiving thousands of trademark applications, with varying chances of success, in the cannabis space.