As individual states have relaxed laws surrounding the cultivation, sale, and consumption of cannabis (i.e. marijuana), this multibillion-dollar industry has exploded with new products, services, and brands. However, federal law has made registration of those brands difficult, if not impossible, and inconsistent handling by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has caused significant confusion over what can and cannot be registered. Now, the USPTO has issued new guidelines to clarify what cannabis-related products and services can be listed in federal trademark applications.
Even if you don't (yet) distribute your products in Canada, there are two recent developments in Canadian trademark law that may be worth noting.
Ken Germain and Sean Owens revisit the theory of liability of trademark licensors for the torts of their licensees in light of the development of the so-called "sharing economy."
In his Bloomberg BNA article, The Brave New World of Possibly Preclusive TTAB Proceedings: How Expert Testimony Can Strengthen Your Case, Ken Germain argues that the Supreme Court's B&B v. Hargis decision in March 2015 has made it more important to have the testimony of a legal expert in inter partes proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.