MEDMEN ATTEMPTS TO TRADEMARK THE TERM “CANNABIS”
Over the course of several years, the little green plant called marijuana has left quite an impact on mass media and popular culture, hasn’t it? In the blink of an eye, we have witnessed the emergence of a mass cannabis market filled with baked goods, shampoos, cosmetics, teas, energy drinks, and (of all things) real estate. Likewise, multiple celebrities like Snoop Dogg, Kristen Bell, and Susan Sarandon have stepped forward to defend the mind-altering herb, and celebrity chefs like Deliciously Dee have spearheaded cookbooks that help recreational users develop meals laced with THC. So what else could possibly happen? What about a major marijuana dispensary stepping forward to trademark the name “cannabis” itself? Let’s take a closer look at one of the craziest stories to hit public media since the announcement that KISS bassist Gene Simmons tried to trademark the rock and roll “metal horns.”
Intellectual Property or Publicity Stunt?
On October 3, MedMen (one of the most renowned retailers and producers of cannabis) officially filed a trademark application for the term “cannabis” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). As part of the application, the company provided images of T-shirts featuring the word imprinted over photos of the MedMen dispensary bags being held by models (whose heads were cropped out).
So, only one question remains. Is this a move to defend intellectual property or a publicity stunt?
According to Shabnam Malek (a patent and trademark attorney at Branch and Branch in Oakland, California), this process of defending property in the marijuana industry is difficult. To establish trademark rights in the United States, this trademark must be used in commerce transactions. However, Malek did confirm that an attempt to trademark the term “cannabis” is completely okay, as long as it is performed in connection with apparel or merchandise (as MedMen is attempting).
Chances of Success
Overall, Malek believes MedMen’s chances of success are relatively slim due to the current registration of “cannabis couture.” Another problem, as he points out, is the fact that MedMen have displayed the mark in an ornamental fashion and have not used the word “cannabis” as a trademark logo. Presently, USPTO has 3,500 trademarks related to “cannabis” on the shelf right now, and cases will not be assigned to an examining attorney for 11 months.
Still, MedMen will be receiving rewarding press coverage for the simple $250 application.
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