Lessons in Patent and Trademark Protection

Lessons in Patent and Trademark Protection

Insights into the process and costs for protecting your IP. Plus 3 things to know before you begin.

January 9, 2017
Kenneth Morrow
This article originally appeared in the November/December print edition of Cannabis Business Times. To subscribe, click here.

In 1994, I conceptualized Trichome Technologies as a molecular genetic research company specializing in cannabis breeding, cultivation, extraction, isolation and formulation, as well as creating proprietary growing systems, extraction and isolation equipment, consulting and other forms of intellectual property (IP). I hired a world-famous artist to help design and create my logo. I printed stickers, posters and hooded sweatshirts, all with my logo on them.

Back then, my company was just a concept, but I did these things because I knew cannabis would achieve some form of legalization and/or regulation in the future, and using the company name/brand/logo establishes its use in commerce and can help in trademark approval. However, in 1994, it was not prudent to walk into an attorney's office, be it a basic, criminal, patent, trademark or any other type, and proclaim yourself a marijuana grower asking for their services.

I used my company name in many articles and interviews, and thereby established it in the community, but I had no way, really, to protect it from use by others. My goal was to gain whatever protection was available at the time, which involved simple steps like securing the TrichomeTechnologies.com domain name and self-filing for ownership of the trademark. At that moment in time, that's as far as it was safe to take it.

Then in 1996, Proposition 215 passed in California. In 1997, California NORML asked me to participate in a study regarding cannabinoid testing of my personal cultigens. I submitted many samples that were analyzed by drug detection laboratories in Sacramento, Calif. A cannabis author did not believe the results, questioning the 27.2% THC content (which was high for 1997) in one of my cultivars. So, all remaining samples were sent to Dr. Mahmoud A. ElSohly at the University of Mississippi (the only university sanctioned by the government to do cannabis research, in partnership with the National Institute on Drug Abuse), as he had provided the original reference standards for the tests. Dr. ElSohly’s tests proved the original test figures were correct.

Through this process, I became the first and probably the last private individual to have my cultigens examined by the government. This sparked the realization that I could actually work within the legal framework and still achieve my end goals.

To read the full article in Cannabis Business Times' November/December edition, click here.