The federal government won’t give trademark protection to marijuana businesses

The decision from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board sets a precedent for all marijuana-related companies looking to protect their brand.

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Denver's latest cash crop. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  marijuana; pot; weed; denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty;

Denver's latest cash crop. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Marijuana companies won’t be offered standard legal protections for their brand names, slogans and other marketing, according to a new decision from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The office denied granting a trademark to a Washington-based pot shop July 14 because the store sells a “substance which cannot be lawfully distributed or dispensed under federal law,” according to documents.

The decision from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board sets a precedent for all marijuana-related companies looking to protect their brand from being imitated by others.

Trademarks must be used by “lawful” businesses, the board states in its decision. “… the fact that the provision of a product or service may be lawful within a state is irrelevant to the question of federal registration when it is unlawful under federal law.”

The case was brought before the board by Morgan Brown.

In August 2014, Morgan Brown filed an application to trademark “Herbal Access,” the name of his medical marijuana store in Washington state. In 2015, his application was denied by a trademark examining attorney and in September 2015 he appealed the decision to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at agarcia@denverite.com or twitter.com/adriandgarcia.

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