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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, including cannabidiol, recently spurred the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to hold its first public hearing on cannabis regulation in May. The 2018 Farm Bill declassified “hemp” as a controlled substance. Cannabis patent portfolios have been at the center of several acquisitions in this space, and cannabis is quickly becoming an industry where cutting-edge biotechnology, informatics and branding are driving competition and valuation. The race for cannabis related 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 pharmaceuticalsbiotechnologymedical devicesconsumer productsindustrial productsfood science and packagingsoftwareagricultural technology, and animal health positions the firm well to assist emerging 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 in the life sciences – from leading global drug companies to pre-clinical stage and start-up companies. Regardless of size and stage of development, Sterne Kessler develops robust, 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 USPTO has generally refused to register trademarks on products and services that lack a “legal use” of the mark in commerce. So, there currently are limitations on the availability of trademark protection for cannabis brands.
    • Copyright registration for logos and other marketing materials may be a reasonable stopgap and Sterne Kessler can help with that registration as well.
  • When patent validity is in question, we take the lead on patent office litigation.
  • When disputes arise related to patent infringement, or trade secrets, we lead district court and USITC litigation.
  • 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 develop freedom to operate opinions.
  • Additionally, we conduct intellectual property due diligence to support our clients who are investing in promising new technologies and/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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