One of the biggest hurdles and dangers in any business is the importance of intellectual property. Without owning the proper patents and trademarks any competitor can take advantage of your hard earned success or devised methods to push your business out of commission. These trademarks provide protection to the average business owner in the event someone were to challenge their patents when it comes to future sales or products, however it is currently almost impossible to receive a cannabis related official patent. The US Patent and Trademark Office has repeatedly refused the filing of any cannabis or paraphernalia related application. Even upcoming California recreational law changes will have little impact on the issue as the Patent Board still defers to federal regulations. What is a Cannabis Entrepreneur to do if they want to protect their inventions?
Currently, the best step to take would be to register and document items related to your field, but would not qualify as paraphernalia or banned substances. This includes apparel, oils, accessories and any other item that may represent your brand without directly being marijuana related products. According to USPTO documentation, these items must not be “primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance, possession of which is unlawful under the CSA.” The items you could trademark now would be beneficial in the future as they would help establish what is known as the “natural zone of expansion” which is incredibly valuable to proving how long you’ve been continuously working towards your patent.
Soon California may allow State Trademarks to be issued to Cannabis business, which although they would not apply on a national level would allow protection in the state of California. The two new classifications of trademark are:
- (500): for goods that are cannabis or cannabis products, including medicinal cannabis or medicinal cannabis products.
- (501): for services related to cannabis or cannabis products, including medicinal cannabis or medicinal cannabis products.
Until these regulations are adopted by the USPTO think about what you can do to establish your future in the Cannabis industry!