“‘Patchwork protection’: Cannabis businesses can’t gain federal trademarks. How are they protecting themselves?”
Generally, when a company is founded, it will apply for a federal trademark for its brand, product or services. Federal trademark protection requires that companies use that brand in interstate commerce, but because cannabis is still illegal federally, it is not accepted by the trademark office, according to John Anastasi, founding partner of local intellectual property law firm Lando & Anastasi. “You have no basis of use, and therefore you have no basis for registration,” he said.
Nate Harris, a partner at Lando & Anastasi, said brand protection is also crucial for safety in an industry like cannabis.
“Let’s say you don’t get around to filing an application, and then a year from now, somebody does apply for it and registers it. Can you go through a very costly court battle to cancel their registration, because you are first? You can do that, but it’s way easier to just save your place in line rather than having to fight for it later,” he said.