Cannabis marks in jeopardy – is your industry next?

By Gregory Wesner, Fran Jagla and Adriane Scola

Nearly 600 applications for ‘cannabis’ marks languish before the US Patent and Trademark Office, yet its patent arm happily grants protection for inventions which use the drug. Where does this disconnect come from and could other industries be vulnerable?

On October 30 2016 the Trademark Electronic Search System reported that there were 576 pending US trademark application files for marks containing the word ‘cannabis’ – a figure which almost certainly under-represents the number of application files for cannabis-related marks which do not name the drug. Clearly, there is widespread interest in the federal registration of cannabis-related trademarks. However, the vast majority of these application files are doomed to remain in legal limbo because, as of the time of writing, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will not extend its authority to cover cannabis, which is a federally prohibited Schedule I drug under the US Controlled Substances Act.

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Issue 73