Getting Out of the Weeds: Why Cannabis Products Can Be Patented but not Trademarked

Cannabis is legal for recreational or medicinal use in almost 30 states, and this number is likely to grow. However, cannabis remains illegal under federal law. As a result, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will not register trademarks for retailers of cannabis, or for products that contain cannabis.
However, what is especially interesting is that the USPTO will grant patents involving cannabis and its derivatives. More simply put, cannabis is patentable. Examples of cannabis-related patents include drug formulations, methods of treating sickness and disease with cannabis, and even cannabis plant patents. So why is cannabis patentable, even though federally it is illegal?

My Interest in Patent Protection as a Legal Professional

When you come across something you are interested in what do you do?  For me, I research the topic to find out more as it leads to expanding my knowledge, understanding, and interest.  This is exactly what happened when I researched the law regarding patents, what defines a patent and why it is important to get protection for your inventions. 
My first sense of curiosity into patent law was the design of the Dyson vacuum cleaner, invented by the British inventor and industrial designer, Sir James Dyson. I remember seeing the vacuum cleaner for the first time and being amazed at a vacuum that does not need a bag.   My curiosity grew from there. 

Patent Troll Control

A study published by Boston University in 2012 found that over $29 billion of direct costs were generated by patent troll patent assertions. Further, it is estimated that these costs ballooned to over $80 billion, once the stock market reacts to such litigation. “Patent trolls,” or Non-practicing entities (NPEs), can be either a company or individual who essentially purchases patents, but has no intention to develop and market a product arising from that patent.

Patent Reform: How Can We Fix This?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has been in the news lately regarding reform and how we can overhaul the process for patents to ensure that it is fostering innovation and not stifling it.

As it is today, the US patent and trademark office issues patents that have terms that are too broad and vague, give patents for too long, and require too much effort to understand. The way things are working now it is all too easy for patent trolls to take advantage of a patent for monetary gain than it is for inventors to get the protection they need and deserve.

Road to the ITC is paved with Patent Trolls

Part of the International Trade Commission (ITC)’s job is to protect U.S. industry by monitoring foreign imports. The ITC can prevent goods from entering the country—including for infringement of IP. And it can issue only one remedy for infringements—an injunction. No money, just exclusion orders that stop violators in their tracks. And this is exactly why legitimate businesses and questionable businesses alike have raced down the road to the ITC.

What does that have to do with money-grubbing patent trolls?

Trans-Pacific Partnership Wikileaks

Trans-Pacific Partnership Wikileaks

Incessant discussions on the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) on Wikileaks focused on the Intellectual Property Chapter and the Pharmaceutical Industry. Concerned parties such as “Doctors Without Borders” disagree with the agreement for having an underlying “anti-generic” effect, whereas, the Obama administration pledges to encourage economic development and innovation of the pharmaceutical industry.

New Moves for an Old Can

Why get up and throw trash in the can, when you can toss trash anywhere and the can moves to you? The Smart Trash Can does just that, with help from a sensor and computer, the can knows where your trash will fall and moves by itself to catch the trash before it hits the ground. A Japanese engineer, Minoru Kurata, created the Smart Trash Can that uses a wall-mounted sensor to pick up the direction of the thrown trash.


The billion dollars app boom is far from being over! A recent study carried out by GIGAOM for the European Commission ( shows how apps are going to substantially contribute to the future global economy and how app developers are going to take the global lead. It is important, for app developers, to know how to obtain protection for their ideas at first, and in the end for their developed apps.

New Age of Fashion: Dutch Designer Meshes 3D Technology and Haute Couture

One of fashion’s newest trends is the utilization of 3D printing technology to produce custom made clothing, footwear, and jewelry. This is just one of the innovative ways that fashion designers have been changing the face of the fashion market. Martje Dijkstra, is a distinguishing Dutch fashion designer that incorporates 3D technology into her pieces in some groundbreaking ways.

Hoverboard: Wheels Need Not Apply

Arx Pax founders Greg and Jill Henderson created a new way to get around, on a real working hoverboard. While there had been rumors in the past of hoverboard technology, this time it is patent pending. The Hendersons have designed a hoverboard called the Hendo, that uses a magnetic field to lift and propel users via magnetic field technology.