The NY Times writes
Alex Norman’s fight to protect the brand he created is part of a trend that industry lawyers say threatens small cannabis businesses.
In the fall of 2021, an acquaintance of Alex Norman, the founder of a cannabis apparel and lifestyle brand called Budega NYC, reached out to congratulate him on making a deal to open several dispensaries in Southern California.
There was just one problem, Mr. Norman said: “It wasn’t me.”
Instead, an international conglomerate had claimed the Budega name, which Mr. Norman, 50, said was a nod to the longstanding role of New York’s neighborhood bodegas in supplying weed before legalization. It was the first of a series of copycats that have forced Mr. Norman, who lives in Brooklyn, to decide whether to wage costly legal battles to defend his brand, work out deals to coexist or start over with a new name.
Cases like his have played out across the country as states legalize cannabis and allow businesses to open stores and release products under similar-sounding names. What in another industry might be blatant trademark infringement is becoming more common in cannabis sales for a simple reason: dispensaries and greenhouses are excluded from federal protections because marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
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