Marijuana’s classification under federal law has created some issues for the cannabis industry, including a lack of access to federal banks. But the industry hasn’t had trouble patenting its inventions.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued nearly 2,000 cannabis-related patents in the decade beginning in November 2008—with patents covering a range of inventions, from toothpaste products to lozenges to methods for cultivating cannabis.
The first marijuana-derived patent to be tested in a federal court has survived an early eligibility challenge, soothing concerns about enforcing cannabis patents through litigation and providing the industry with a potential road map for protecting certain types of inventions.
Craig Nard, the Galen J. Roush Professor of Law and the director of the Spangenberg Center for Law, Technology & the Arts at Case Western Reserve University, says that a patent lawsuit in Colorado over liquid CBD formulations is being closely watched as a test case for patent enforcement in the cannabis industry.
Judge William Martinez in the District of Colorado ruled that highly concentrated liquid formulations of CBD and THC in United Cannabis Corp.’s patent are not a naturally occurring phenomena that would be ineligible for patent protection.
The ruling allows the medical cannabis company to push ahead with an infringement suit against Pure Hemp Collective Inc., a rival maker of CBD products.
More broadly, it signals that courts aren’t looking at these types of inventions disapprovingly even though cannabis is illegal under federal law.
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