Big Brands are Cracking Down on Cannabis Companies for Trademark Infringements
In an industry where strict branding restrictions have already been put in place by the government, cannabis companies are also facing legal pressure from businesses outside of the industry.
UPS is just the latest big brand suing a cannabis company, as other businesses such as The Toronto Maple Leafs and Hershey’s have dispatched their legal teams against cannabis brands.
Here’s a look at five companies who are cracking down on trademark infringement against cannabis brands.
Earlier this month, the United Parcel Service, better known as UPS, filed a federal trademark infringement against the operators of a self-described ‘non-profit’ medical marijuana collective, United Pot Smokers.
UPS argues that United Pot Smoker’s logo blatantly copies their shield logo. Since the lawsuit was filed, United Pot Smoker’s websites have all been taken down.
In 2017, Gorilla Glue, the American brand of adhesives, reached a settlement with the cannabis company GG Strains in their trademark infringement case. GG Strains has agreed to rename the strains infringing on Gorilla Glue’s trademarks.
GG Strains have since changed the names of their popular Gorilla Glue strains to Original Glue, New Glue and Sister Glue. Ross Johnson, founder of GG Strains, said the suit and rebranding efforts cost the company $250,000 but the resolution allows the company to move forward.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The storied Canadian hockey franchise made headlines in late 2018 for sending Snoop Dogg’s brand, “Leafs by Snoop” to the penalty box for trademark infringement. The Toronto Maple Leafs filed a lawsuit against Snoop Dogg, aka Calvin Broadus, in an attempt to stop his brand from using the current logo for his cannabis brand.
“Leafs by Snoop” is part of a collaboration with one of Canopy Growth’s brands, Tweed and famous rapper and cannabis enthusiast, Snoop Dogg. While the suit remains unresolved, this partnership has also recently come into question, as celebrity endorsements for cannabis products are now prohibited since the Cannabis Act came into effect. The Leafs by Snoop website and Tweed page have since been taken down.
Another case from 2017 involved California-based hot sauce and salsa manufacturer, Tapatio Foods suing the medical cannabis brand Payaso Grow. The lawsuit claimed that Payaso violated Tapatio trademarks with their cannabis-infused chile sauce Trapatio.
Looks like Payaso has gotten the message, as there is no longer any trace of the Trapatio cannabis-infused hot sauce on the internet or social media.
Hershey’s has inadvertently played a large role in shaping the Canadian cannabis landscape when they left their Smith Falls chocolate factory vacant for Canopy Growth Corp to call home. While they have made strides to align themselves with the cannabis industry by releasing an O’Henry 4:25 chocolate bar, they’ve also been involved in numerous lawsuits with edible cannabis brands.
In 2014 Hershey’s filed a suit against a Colorado edibles maker, Tincturebelle, over trademark infringements involving the names of the cannabis edibles Ganja Joy, Hasheath, Hashees and Dabby Patty. Since then, Hershey’s have filed trademark infringement lawsuits against another edible’s brand and two dispensaries, for selling cannabis edibles that resembled Hershey’s products.
As disruptors of the consumer-packaged goods industry, cannabis brands need to be extra cautious when creating their trademarks. As long as there’s still a negative stigma surrounding cannabis consumption, major brands will be keen on serving any cannabis brands that even hint a similarity with a trademark infringement lawsuit.
For cannabis companies that want to make sure they won’t be receiving any unexpected lawsuits for trademark infringement, do your homework and check out some of the many legal resources available online.