As regular readers of this blog will know, cannabis businesses face unique challenges when it comes to protecting their brand, particularly in the context of federal trademark registration. The federal government’s ongoing prohibitions on cannabis with THC levels exceeding 0.3%, as well as on a wide range of CBD products, means that marks identifying those products cannot be registered with the USPTO.
One of the strategies adopted by many cannabis industry participants is the registration of trademarks for goods that are not considered unlawful by federal law. Often this means merch, such as tees, hats, lighters, coffee mugs, and many other products. Trademarks can also be registered for cannabis products that fall within the parameters of legality established by federal law, such as hemp cigarettes.
Of course, cannabis companies eagerly await the day when they will be able to federally register the trademarks for all their products, including what for most of them constitute their core offerings. But as I often point out, brand protection is not a black-and-white matter. Registering a particular trademark (or a few of them) will not by itself protect a brand anymore than signing a single contract will protect them against contractual breaches. By the