In the middle of finalizing the biggest-ever deal in American cannabis industry history—the $682 million takeover of a rival company, announced earlier this month—Los Angeles–based MedMen was plotting something even more audacious: laying claim to the word “cannabis” itself.
On Oct. 3, MedMen filed a federal trademark applicationwith the United States Patent and Trademark Office. As Marijuana Business Daily first reported on Monday, the company claimed “first use” and thus dominion over the use of the term “cannabis”—albeit with some limitations.
The company has already successfully trademarked its stylized marijuana leaf design. Now, according to its trademark application, MedMen wants to register as its trademark the word “cannabis” when printed on clothing like t-shirts. The company says it first printed such shirts on Sept. 4, pictures of which were included with its application.
If federal patent examiners agree and the application is granted, other firms would not be able to print t-shirts or other clothing with the word “cannabis” without risking infringement of MedMen’s trademark (and attendant lawsuits), a number of intellectual property lawyers told Leafly this afternoon.
Daniel Yi, a MedMen spokesman, did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Leafly News asking about the nature of the company’s claimed first use of the word. We’ll update this story when we hear back.
In the meantime, news of the trademark attempt has triggered immediate reaction from many in the cannabis industry, not all of it positive.
The move has also raised doubts among some patent attorneys and law professors, some of whom questioned the company’s actual intent. One expert called the effort a “publicity stunt.”
Crazy Enough to Succeed?
But according to a few patent attorneys, MedMen’s brash move might actually work.
“Assuming MedMen is the first to file for federal trademark registration, they do have a surprisingly decent chance of success,” said Larry Sandell, a Washington, DC-based attorney with Mei & Mark LLP.
There are two main caveats, Sandell noted. One, if MedMen is selling hemp-based clothing, the word cannabis could be considered “merely descriptive” and thus ineligible to become the company’s intellectual property. Similarly, a beer company couldn’t register as its trademark “beer” or “light beer.”
The other and potentially more damaging issue is if any other company has used “cannabis” on clothing prior to MedMen’s application.
To Read The Rest Of This Article By Chris Roberts on Leafly
Published: October 30, 2018
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News