Cannabis Patents and Trademarks

Sterne Kessler brings a full range of IP capabilities to innovators in the emerging cannabis industry – from patents to brand protection.

Therapies and consumer products that include cannabis-derived compounds, such as cannabidiol, recently spurred the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to hold its first public hearing on cannabis regulation in 2019. The 2018 Farm Bill declassified hemp as a controlled substance, creating new business opportunities in the hemp and hemp-derived product space.

The business and regulatory landscape for cannabis is dynamic and evolving. Cannabis patent portfolios have been at the center of several acquisitions and cannabis is quickly becoming an industry where cutting-edge biotechnology, informatics, and branding are driving competition and valuation. The race for cannabis intellectual property is already underway and is likely to intensify as the regulatory landscape matures and federally-approved pathways are defined.

Sterne Kessler’s deep experience in developing patent portfolios, trademarks, and trade dress protection in the areas of pharmaceuticalsbiotechnology
medical devicesconsumer productsindustrial productsfood science and packagingsoftwareagricultural technology, and animal health positions the firm well to assist innovators in the cannabis industry as they develop and protect IP related to their inventions, products, and brands. The firm helps innovators of all sizes and stages – from leading global pharmaceutical companies to start-ups. Regardless of size and stage of development, Sterne Kessler’s IP professionals can help you develop robust and defensible patent and trademark portfolios that create substantial shareholder value.

Our services for cannabis companies run the full spectrum of intellectual property.

  • We prepare and prosecute patent applications before the U.S. and foreign patent offices.
  • Similarly, we prepare and prosecute trademarks domestically and internationally.
    • It is important to note, however, that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has generally refused to register trademarks on products and services that lack a “legal use” of the mark in commerce. As a result, there currently are limitations on the availability of trademark protection for cannabis brands and you should consult with a trademark attorney about eligibility.
    • Copyright registration for logos and other marketing materials may be a reasonable way to protect brand-related materials and Sterne Kessler can help with registration as well.
  • When patent validity is in question, we take the lead on patent office litigation in post-grant proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”).
  • When disputes arise related to patent or trade secret infringement we lead litigation in court as well as before the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”).
  • When disputes center on trademarks, trade dress, or other aspects of brand protection, we lead litigation in appropriate venues – including anti-counterfeiting campaigns.
  • For those collaborating, licensing or commercializing innovations, we provide counseling regarding agreements and can provide freedom to operate opinions.
  • Additionally, we conduct intellectual property due diligence to support our clients who are investing in promising new technologies or making acquisitions.

Disclaimer: Please be mindful that possessing, using, distributing, and selling marijuana are considered federal crimes. The content provided here is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest that marijuana and marijuana use are currently legal under federal law.

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