Entrepreneurs and business owners in the Colorado cannabis industry have unique motivations to protect their intellectual property. A strong strategy in many cases requires securing trademark protection for new strains of cannabis as well as cannabis-related products. Trademark protection is available for visual features, such as phrases, symbols and words, that consumers associate with a particular company or product. It grants exclusive rights to the owner to use it in commerce.
Trademarks are governed by both state and federal law. Protections are available in many cases even without registration, so long as the mark is used in commerce and the intention to protect it indicated with the familiar TM. Registration at state and federal levels may confer a number of advantages, however. Registering a mark with the federal government, for example, gives the owner exclusive rights nationwide and the right to bring infringement actions in federal court.
Because cannabis is illegal under federal law, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office does not grant trademarks for products that contain cannabis, but trademark protection is available for many related items. The logo of a specific brand of grow light or pipe, though, may be trademarkable because it is not illegal under federal law to sell them. The logo of a candy that contains cannabis, though, would not get a federal trademark.
Some states that have legalized cannabis allow for state-level trademark protection for products that contain cannabis. Individuals who have questions about intellectual property or the applicability of trademark protection to this or another business may want to speak to an attorney.