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Cannabis Trademarks: A State Registration Consortium Solution


Russell W. Jacobs


September 4, 2017

This article proposes a solution to a problem in the cannabis industry resulting from the unavailability of federal trademark registration for that sector. The author offers modest changes to the existing state trademark registration systems to make up for the gaps at the federal level. The proposed reforms would strengthen the trademark framework by conferring on cannabis trademark registrations presumptions of ownership, exclusive rights, and validity beyond the presumption of registration currently afforded under state laws. To extend protection throughout the geographic breadth of the cannabis marketplace, the states with legalized recreational cannabis would offer reciprocal recognition of state cannabis registrations, meaning that one state in the consortium would recognize a registration issued by another consortium member as if it had issued the registration itself. This reciprocity will limit bad-faith adoption of trademarks by those seeking to usurp the goodwill of a cannabis business operating in a different part of the country.