Cannabis: Business opportunity or just smoke

Written by Margaret Briffa | November 6, 2018

Intellectual Property

I subscribe to an excellent publication which promotes the stories of small and successful emerging business called Courier Magazine. The October edition ran a long feature on the cannabis economy which features the stories of a whole host of start-ups developing what will quite probably become the big cannabis brands of the future.

Over here in the UK there is no indication as to when and if the question of legalising cannabis will get on the political agenda, though the question as to whether it is time for reform is getting asked more often and more loudly. The think-tank, The Institute of Economic Affairs claims that legalising cannabis in the UK could be a win win for the economy. They claim £1bn as the sum that would be generated from extra taxes on cannabis-based products and savings on public services currently deployed to deal with the legal consequences of using and dealing in cannabis alongside the cost of providing healthcare to those who have taken hazardous high strength cannabis which they have obtained on the black market. Meanwhile the legalisation of cannabis in certain US states and Canada has allowed those with commercial flare looking to set up a new business an idea opportunity to become a market leader.

Inevitably where the is market opportunity there are trade mark filings. The latest to come to my attention is an application by California based Medmen for the word ‘Cannabis’ for use on T-shirts. Medmen already have a trade mark for a geometric leaf and see securing the word as a natural extension of the idea. Trade mark experts in the States are of the view that the mark will be hard to get on the register and will face objection from the US Patent and Trademark Office. Although there are several marks which contain the word ‘cannabis’ on the US register they are used in combination with other words or are stylised so only the particular stylisation is protected and not the word itself.

In anticipation that businesses in the UK may be keen to get into this market and consider filing marks, as part of their preparations I was curious as to the state of the trade mark register on all thing’s cannabis. A search for marks containing the word ‘Cannabis’ threw up 141 results. As in the US most are for the word cannabis in combination with another word or stylised. Some of the goods and services covered were obvious such as, medicinal herbs, plant nutrients and agricultural services. Other less so and included restaurants, sunglasses, hard hats and even business administration! I would expect to see more marks which include the word cannabis being filed especially if legalisation of cannabis starts getting talked about more or looks like it is heading on the political agenda. Maybe it’s not too early to start thinking of business ideas to take advantage of what could be a completely new market here.

Written by Margaret Briffa

Related articles

Back to blog

Book a free consultation with one of our specialist solicitors.

We’ll start with a no obligation chat where we’ll get to know you and understand your current challenges.

Book your free consultation now

Looking for more information?

Explore our services Key industry sectors Briffa content hub