On Friday, simply 12 days after marijuana turned authorized for adults throughout the state, the California Secretary of State’s workplace introduced it might start accepting trademark purposes from hashish manufacturers with services or products to supply.
This is a monumental step for the enterprise house owners who make up California’s hashish business as counterfeiting has develop into more and more prevalent whereas extra manufacturers purpose to set up shopper belief and loyalty inside the state’s market.
A state trademark permits a model to solidify its services or products among the many reputable marijuana market and set up its identify to keep away from having different corporations money in on their footwork. The trademark serves as a notifier to the general public of who holds possession over that phrase, image, or phrase representing the enterprise, service, or product. It additionally ensures that buyers know the place their merchandise really come from.
However, companies will solely give you the option to safe a trademark within the State of California, leaving their mental property, branding, and different worthwhile belongings defenseless nationwide. Because interstate commerce of federally-prohibited gadgets continues to be a critical crime, California hashish companies can solely function inside state strains, however shoppers in different states is probably not conscious of this once they see a recognizable model on their native cabinets.
Marijuana.com spoke with Stewart Richlin, a cannabis-focused lawyer who has represented greater than 600 companies within the business. Richlin praised the trademark course of “because it tells the consumer the origin of goods.”
“If I buy a well-known product such as BAND-AID, I know that brand is the brand I’m getting services from, which is a benefit to consumers that was created as part of the intellectual properties system dating back to the Constitution. It’s a brilliant invention.”
Cannabis flower, and the concentrates produced from it, are troublesome merchandise to model. Due in no small half to the complicated means marijuana has been named through the years. Some cultivators and have developed strains by way of generations of selective breeding solely to have that identify utilized by different growers with an analogous plant. The potential to trademark hashish merchandise inside the state alleviates a few of this concern for new merchandise however comes with challenges for present pressure names.
Richlin alluded to this concern, explaining, “it’s good to be able to protect names as long as it’s not used in a tricky way or someone tries to protect a name that is already public. A difficulty with trademarking cannabis is flavors or strains that are already in the public domain. It will be interesting to see if companies change strains to trademarkable names. If someone were to trademark ‘Grape Ape,’ what will collectives already selling it do? Now, it’s a court case where one person is going to steal a name that many use. Some retailers will modify the name to a similar variation, i.e. Grape ‘Monkey.’ Consumers will be confused. When they go looking for Grape Ape, retailers will say, ‘we have Grape Monkey.’”
Marijuana product producers have been borrowing references from the mainstream consciousness to identify their merchandise since lengthy earlier than the business started to emerge from the shadows of prohibition inside the final half-decade. References to Star Wars, basic board video games, and even a Seth Rogen film, amongst others, are extremely prevalent on flower menus throughout the legalized market.
As the business grew and strains like Gorilla Glue moved more and more into the nationwide highlight, established mainstream manufacturers with authorized rights to the precious logos — as in, the precise glue firm, Gorilla Glue — started to catch wind of the trademark infringements and subsequently took authorized motion towards the federally-banned manufacturers.
As packaging laws develop into standardized, and business marijuana manufacturers grow to be extra peculiar, will probably be fascinating to see if a consumer-focused certification course of like JD Power & Associates for cars takes form within the marijuana business.
Legitimate hashish merchandise will little question proceed to be bootlegged by knockoff artists, however now the specter of a trademark lawsuit no less than gives the business a preventing probability at eliminating one of many black market’s most dangerous parts.
Cover picture courtesy of Allie Beckett