Patent and Trademark Issues

In our previous post, we touched on some of the interesting issues related to the enforcement of cannabis patents through litigation. In this post, we turn to an alternative to litigation to discuss some of the unique cannabis-related issues that could arise before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”).

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The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) reiterated once again that you cannot register marijuana marks at the federal level. The TTAB announced its decision on July 16, 2019, rejecting Canopy Growth Corporation’s, a Canadian corporation, trademark filings for marijuana vaporizers “Juju Rx” and “Juju Hybrid.” In re Canopy Growth Corporation by assignment from JJ206

Trademark practitioners, hemp producers, and hemp-derived product manufacturers have long struggled with the clash of federal and state law regarding protection of trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Historically, the USPTO has refused registration of marks that include cannabis, hemp, CBD or derived products on the basis that these marks were unable to have lawful use in commerce under existing federal law. These waters became even murkier after the passage of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (known as the 2018 Farm Bill), which removed “hemp” from the list of controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). On May 2, 2019, the USPTO issued Examination Guide 1-19, outlining the USPTO’s policies with respect to trademarks including legal CBD and hemp-derived goods and services since passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. This appears to open the door for registration of marks that include legal CBD, hemp or hemp-derived products (such as hemp oil), or services such as the cultivation or production of hemp.

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Chapter 1 – The Double-Edged Nature of the FDA Approval Process

2018 proved to be a very busy (and frankly dizzying) year for the cannabis industry as three more states, including Missouri, passed laws legalizing some form of cannabis use, bringing the total number of such states and U.S. territories to well over thirty, despite the fact that cannabis, and its use, remains unlawful, under federal law that is. Today, there are thirty-three states that allow for medical use of cannabis, while ten states have legalized the recreational use of cannabis.  What is more, several state governments and governors are expected to prioritize new cannabis-related policies in 2019. As more states decide to permit various uses of cannabis, one issue that remains generally unanswered lies at the intersection of these emerging state laws and U.S. patent law, which falls within the exclusive purview of the federal government, both statutorily and in enforcement of patent rights.


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Yesterday, Laura A. Labeots, Ph.D., J.D., posted an update on the significant changes to the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 on our Food & Agribusiness blog.

What does this post mean for the cannabis industry?

Since much of cannabis is asexually produced, it appears that marijuana and industrial hemp cultivators can utilize the Plant

Cannabis oil cartridgeThe United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) is at odds with the ever-growing marijuana industry. While marijuana legalization was a big winner in November’s elections, with seven states legalizing either medical or adult recreational use of the drug, the burgeoning industry may run into some problems obtaining trademarks for marijuana products and related devices. The lack of trademark protection could slow down or inhibit the growth of the industry as the lack of trademark protection limits entrepreneurs’ ability to stop infringement and protect their rights.
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On August 12, 2016, the DEA published a policy in the federal register (81 Fed. Reg. 53846) designed to increase the number of entities registered under the CSA to grow marijuana to supply legitimate researchers in the United States.  The DEA has concluded that the best way to satisfy the current researcher demand for

A favorable ruling from the Ninth Circuit in United States v. McIntosh is a reassuring win for the medical marijuana industry.  This federal case concluded that § 542 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act prohibits DOJ from spending money on actions that prevent medical marijuana states giving practical effect to their state laws that authorize