Patents are an important tool for businesses to secure a competitive advantage, particularly for companies in an emerging industry such as the cannabis industry. Contrary to popular belief, cannabis and cannabis-related inventions are not only are patentable, but the number of patents and applications being filed in this area is growing steadily. The evolving legal and regulatory framework and the development of new technologies as the industry matures and consolidates means that those businesses that have taken steps to patent protect their technologies early on are likely to be at a competitive advantage.
How do patents fit into the current state and federal cannabis regulations?
As of this writing, twenty-nine U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. and eight states permit recreational use. Under federal law, cannabis remains a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. However, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), an agency of the United States Department of Commerce, has issued, and continues to issue patents to cannabis and cannabis-related inventions. The USPTO has traditionally taken a hands-off approach to barring particular kinds of inventions from patentability. Congress has determined that two kinds of inventions are categorically not patentable: those encompassing human organisms (The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) (Public Law 112-29, sec. 33(a), 125 Stat. 284), and those having as their sole purpose use in atomic weapons (The Atomic Energy Act of 1954, See 42 U.S.C. 2181(a)). Otherwise, assuming that a patent application covering cannabis or cannabis-related products meets the legal standards for patentability, the USPTO is presently granting such patents.
For his monthly column “Nev’s Health Law” in Chicago Lawyer magazine, Duane Morris partner Neville Bilimoria has written a two-part article focusing on different aspects of law related to the cannabis industry.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently issued warning letters to four companies concerning the marketing of products containing cannabidiol (CBD). FDA alleged that claims made on websites and social media webpages concerning the health benefits of CBD violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The products at issue included CBD-infused oils, edibles, tinctures and creams, and the manufacturers included statements claiming various health benefits from CBD.
Duane Morris’ Patricia Heer will be presenting at the 4th Annual Cannabis World Congress and Business Exposition in Boston on October 4-6, 2017.
Patricia’s presentation, “Cannabis and Social Media with Some Practical and Legal Implications,” will take place on Friday, October 6 at 11:00 a.m.
The Annual Cannabis World Congress and Business Expos are the leading forums for doing business in one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. If you’re employed in the cannabis industry, a current business owner, interested in starting a cannabis business, provide private equity and investment resources, or provide professional or business services, these events provide numerous informative presentations and networking opportunities.
Over the past few years the number of states that have legalized marijuana in some form has grown substantially to the point where, as of this writing, 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for either medical or recreational use. This recent acceptance of marijuana by a significant number of states has created a brand new industry, which is estimated to generate approximately $7.0 billion in 2017 and $24.5 billion by 2025. This industry is clamoring for acceptance into a financial system that allows participants to bring the cash generated into the secure environment afforded by our banking system. This will not only provide security to the marijuana related businesses (“MRBs”), but will also permit better accounting, monitoring, and taxing of funds generated by those businesses.
Duane Morris was mentioned in this U.S. News Best States article about law firms that have set up practices that focus on the cannabis industry, with a focus on firms in the Philadelphia area and advising companies on Pennsylvania laws related to the cannabis industry.
On June 8, 2017, Clifford J. White III, director of the U.S. Trustee Program, proclaimed before a congressional subcommittee that “debtors with assets or income derived from marijuana may not proceed through the bankruptcy system.”