Business Law News State U.S.

Small business in trademark dispute with multi-state operators

A trademark dispute is brewing between California-based Farmacann, which was founded originally under California’s medical cannabis law, and the Chicago-based multi-state cannabis operator Pharmacann.

In 2010, Jon Early founded Farmacann under California’s medical cannabis law, Proposition 215. The name, he said, is “pretty obvious … farming and pharmaceuticals, and cannabis.”

The following year he filed for a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which he received for the “agricultural consulting aspect” of the business due to federal law preventing trademarks for cannabis-related businesses.

He also holds a trademark on that name in California, which specifies his business is in the cannabis space.

Farmacann’s shift to cannabis products

Around the same time, Early clarified, Farmacann morphed into developing cannabis products for seniors – tinctures and extracts – he even purchased testing equipment to ensure the products met safety standards and remained consistent, years before California required such analysis. At the time, the company was operating under Proposition 215, the medical cannabis law.

In an interview with Ganjapreneur, Early explained that just because the USPTO trademark was for the consulting services it does not prevent him from pivoting operations and the feds never invalidated the trademark.

“In essence, my goal was to evolve and develop senior-serving cannabis products,” he said. “It was really clear to me the path I was choosing in this industry was the ultimate one for me and would be – from the standpoint of demand and desirability from a market.”

By 2012, he would launch an online dispensary called Garden Gateway and offered overnight delivery within the state. He explained that, at that time, federal law had not explicitly prohibited in-state cannabis delivery but did ban the practice in 2017, which forced Early to shut down the service. Early said that his business was “no longer tenable” under Proposition 64, the broad legalization law passed in 2016, and the town he lived in, Sonoma, did not allow adult-use cannabusiness operations.

But it was in 2015 that Early first heard about Chicago, Illinois-based Pharmacann, which he said caught him off guard. “Did they even research?” he thought.

“How or why did they even do that?” he said. “They knew we would end up in a conflict.”

To Read The Rest Of This Article By TG Branfalt on Ganjapreneur

Published: March 17, 2021

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