Cannabis companies encouraged to register trademarks as legal weed spreads

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Cannabis companies encouraged to register trademarks as legal weed spreads

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Competition is getting fierce for companies operating in the legal weed space.

In order to stand out and build brand awareness in the flourishing cannabis industry, worldwide weed companies are being advised to file a trademark for brand-building purposes ASAP.

“The opportunities to create new brands for cannabis-based products are endless, and so too should the requisite protection of intellectual property protection be in place,” said Donvay Wegierski, director of Werksmans Attorneys in South Africa, where cannabis use was legalized by the country’s highest court in September.

MedMen knows just how important it is to establish a cannabis trademark. The California-based company recently announced its efforts to trademark the word “cannabis” – a bold move, to say the least.

Cannabis legalization is spreading across the globe

The pro-pot movement is sweeping across the planet, with medical cannabis laws now being passed in 33 U.S. states, Canada, Uruguay, the Netherlands, Colombia, Czech Republic and most recently, the United Kingdom.

On October 17, Canada made history by becoming the first G-7 country to legalize the use and distribution of weed, while 10 U.S. states and Washington DC have given cannabis the green light for recreational purposes.

What’s more, residents of South Africa can now legally possess and enjoy cannabis for personal use, thanks to the Constitutional Court passing a law in September. However, it is still forbidden to distribute the drug.  

As a direct effect of expanded cannabis legalization worldwide, cannabis stocks have skyrocketed, investments have soared and the multi-million dollar cannabis market in North America is expected to reach $95 billion by 2026.

Cannabis companies would benefit from a trademark attorney

Anyone who operates a cannabis company in South Africa can register their desired cannabis trademark with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission. Alternatively, they can hire a trademark attorney, which would prove useful for anyone who requires registration assistance elsewhere on the map, too.

In the U.S., it is possible to register a cannabis trademark via the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) whereas, in Canada, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) deals with patents, trademarks, and copyright administration.

Wegierski recommends businesses register a cannabis trademark that is not offensive, nor conflicting of public policies. Furthermore, he says that the cannabis trademark shouldn’t describe a company’s specific type of product and its characteristics.

Standing out amongst the ocean of cannabis brands is not going to be a walk in the park, however. Brands face some stiff competition, according to Wegierski.

“Earlier this year nearly 1,700 trademark applications and registrations could be found on the Canadian Trade Mark Database covering cannabis,” he said.

This figure, Wegierski predicts, will swell further when the requirement for “use” to secure cannabis trademark registration is eradicated from Canadian Trade Mark Law in June of next year.