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New Article Proposes Expanded State Protections for Marijuana Trademarks

Posted by on Friday, September 22, 2017 in Updates.

As discussed in my book (pages 406-412), marijuana suppliers currently cannot obtain federal protection for their trademarks (or other intellectual property). Some states do provide protection for marijuana trademarks, but that protection is often limited (n. 4, page 411). But Russ Jacobs, who is corporate counsel at Starbucks, has proposed a novel way to expand the scope of state trademark protection for marijuana business. He develops the proposal in this article, Russell W. Jacobs, Cannabis Trademarks: A State Registration Consortium Solution, 74 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. Online 159 (2017). Here is the abstract:

This article proposes a solution to a problem in the cannabis industry resulting from the unavailability of federal trademark registration for that sector. The author offers modest changes to the existing state trademark registration systems to make up for the gaps at the federal level. The proposed reforms would strengthen the trademark framework by conferring on cannabis trademark registrations presumptions of ownership, exclusive rights, and validity beyond the presumption of registration currently afforded under state laws. To extend protection throughout the geographic breadth of the cannabis marketplace, the states with legalized recreational cannabis would offer reciprocal recognition of state cannabis registrations, meaning that one state in the consortium would recognize a registration issued by another consortium member as if it had issued the registration itself. This reciprocity will limit bad-faith adoption of trademarks by those seeking to usurp the goodwill of a cannabis business operating in a different part of the country.

Hat tip to Dan McKillop for bringing the article to my attention.

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