SXSW 2020

IP Rights and Threats in the Cannabis Industry


As the cannabis industry continues to grow exponentially and attract new market entrants, effectively protecting technological innovation, branding, and other IP has become an increasingly critical business task. Cannabis entrepreneurs should consider and perfect their IP rights early and often. Otherwise, the ability to secure such rights may be foreclosed, or worse—a competitor may claim such rights.

The session offers a primer on utility patents, design patents, plant patents, trademarks, trade secrets, plant variety protection certificates, and copyrights—all from the cannabis perspective. Hot topics in cannabis IP law, such as rapid increases in filing “Intent to Use” (ITU) trademark applications and the impending threat of “patent trolls,” will also be addressed.

Additional Supporting Materials

Other Resources / Information


  1. How do I protect my branding despite that (a) federal trademarks require “legal use in commerce” and (b) cannabis is still federally illegal?
  2. What types of IP protections should my cannabis business venture consider, what are the costs, and what are the deadlines to secure those IP rights?
  3. Why is there an impending “patent troll” threat in the cannabis industry, and how can I prepare for it? (And, what is a “patent troll”?)



Larry Sandell, Intellectual Property Attorney, Mei & Mark LLP

Meta Information:

  • Event: SXSW
  • Format: Focus15
  • Track: Cannabusiness
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate

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