Protection for Medical Marijuana Trademarks

In a July 2016 decision, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office refused to register a trademarked name for a retails store that sold marijuana. The TTAB cited the reason that a trademark can be registered for lawful commerce and ruled that the mark must be lawful under federal law. As federal law prohibits the sale or use of marijuana, the trademark was denied.

Marijuana has become a powerful states’ rights issue, with many states moving to legalize medical and even recreational marijuana for their citizens. The Federal government stance on marijuana remains unchanged, however, and the TTAB determined that a product or service that may be legal in a state is irrelevant when it comes to the question of federal registration.

To combat this decision, Pennsylvania has created an alternative method for dispensaries and other medical marijuana businesses to register their design and word marks. The Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations (BCCO) administers trademark applications and registrations. Under The Pennsylvania Trademark Act, those marks registered with the BCCO are protected from others who would seek to use a mark that copies or resembles a registered trademark.

While the TTAB and Patent and Trademark Office may not register the trademarks belonging to medical marijuana businesses, Pennsylvania law can still protect business owners and their trademarks. Until such a time that medical marijuana use is legalized federally, it is likely that state who have legalized marijuana use will have to take similar steps to provide protections to businesses in the marijuana industry.

At Sacks Weston LLC, we are dedicated to protecting the legalization of medical marijuana. Our team of Pennsylvania marijuana attorneys is passionate about helping medical marijuana patients receive the care they need and protecting the businesses that serve them. If you have questions about your medical marijuana case, contact our offices today and schedule a free case evaluation.