By: Matthew G. Miller
Canopy Growth Corporation, a Canadian based company is one of the leaders in the cannabis production industry. The brands under Canopy Growth’s umbrella are all based in Canada. Founded in 2014, Canopy Growth is now a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange and owns a vast intellectual property portfolio. We decided to take a look at the steps they have taken to protect their assets in this growing sector.
Tweed is Canopy Growth’s most recognized brand that operates both domestically in Canada and internationally. Canopy Growth took strategic initiatives to protect its most important trademark. According to the U.S government database for Trademarks, Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR), Tweed is registered for trademark protection in connection with the sale of “medicinal herb extracts, medical herb extracts for medical purposes; medicinal herbal preparations; medicinal herbs; medicinal herbs in dried or preserved form;” under class 5, filed in 2014.
One of the major players in the cannabis industry, Canopy Growth was formerly registered as Tweed Marijuana Inc. The company rebranded as Canopy Growth while expanding into owning a number of other international brands, including Spectrum Cannabis, DNA Genetics, Leafs By Snoop, Bedrocan Canada, Craftgrow and FORIA. As of June 2018, Canopy Growth has registered only two trademarks in the United States. These trademarks are for” BEDROCAN” and “FORIA”. Canopy Growth has more steps to take to fully protect their intellectual property rights within the U.S..
Further, FORIA’s trademark has a long list of goods and services in its description. In order to let the public know the scope of your trademark rights, the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office (USPTO) requires the company to provide a description of a list of goods and services that the mark is or will be used with. Although the company might be tempted to write long descriptions to get more rights and protections, it is not advisable not do so. Another party can petition to cancel an existing trademark if the trademark application lists goods and/or services that are not actually used under this mark.
Canopy Growth is at the forefront of obtaining patent applications in the cannabis industry. They claim to have a total of 39 applied for utility patents, including methods of treating cannabis plants. Most recently, in April 2018, they filed an additional 8 patents in cannabis-related fields for treatments of various diseases, including Fibromyalgia, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also known as ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease), anxiety, pain management and smoke cessations. We have not been able to find records for most of these application in the public database, which may be due to the “*blackout period” after initial filing.
*The “blackout period” in patent law refers to the time period (18 months) when an application filed and becomes public record. Therefore, it is possible to have an approved patent that is still not available for search. Only two of the patents are in public records as of June, 2018.
A quick glimpse of Canopy Growth’s intellectual property protection filings shows that it has taken some steps towards protecting its own brand. Their trademarks will protect the brand name and logos used in their production of goods. The patents will give them a limited monopoly for 20 years – namely, an exclusive right to make, sell, use, offer to sell, and import in the United States and its associated territories. However, there is still room for improvement as Canopy could have a more expansive IP portfolio, such as more trademark registrations, given their product portfolio.