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California Cannabis Trademark Registration:
Yes, It’s Really (Going to Be) A Thing (Kind Of)

The beginning of any regulatory period is exhilarating, yet filled with questions, starts-and-stops, and ever-shifting priorities. So it is with cannabis regulation in California, on the eve of its first issuance of business licenses for recreational cannabis sales. Exciting, but where does this leave companies ready to open their doors but unable to protect their brands?

Earlier this year, California was set to create two new state trademark classes specifically for cannabis goods and services as part of California Assembly Bill 64. At the last minute, California shelved this pending legislation, opting instead to continue its alignment with the federal USPTO policy and prohibiting trademark registration for marks used in connection with goods and services that violate the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

Until now. We recently learned directly from the California Secretary of State that beginning January 1, 2018, cannabis companies in full compliance with state regulations may obtain a state trademark registration for cannabis-related services (even if in violation of the CSA). This means that once you obtain a state and local license to operate your cannabis company, you’ll be able to file a California state trademark application to protect your brand in connection with your cannabis-related services. Unfortunately, the Secretary of State still won’t allow registrations covering goods like cannabis flower or edibles––only services such as retail dispensary or distribution services.

Questions? We know you have them. Get in touch; we’d love to guide you through this. And check out other information we’ve shared on state trademark registration. Creating a comprehensive state trademark strategy is worth considering.