CALL US: 206.533.3854
CALL US  206.533.3854
AEON Law logo full color transparent
By Aleks - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Biotech Company Goes to Court to Protect Hemp-Related Trade Secrets

Hemp biotech firm
goes to federal court to
protect trade secrets

Orochem, a biotech company that uses patented chromatography technology to purify and concentrate biopharmaceutical and other products, has sued to protect its method for extracting and purifying cannabidiol (“CBD”) from industrial hemp.

CBD is a non-psychoactive product that is reported to have medical benefits, including pain relief.

One challenge in obtaining CBD from industrial hemp is removing tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”), the psychoactive compound present in industrial hemp (and marijuana).

Orochem entered into a CBD supply agreement with a company called Folium in 2015.

Follium, based in Colorado Springs, cultivates hemp on a 500-acre site.

High Times reports that Follium is the “largest vertically integrated producer of CBD-rich hemp oil in the world.”

According to High Times,

Although industrial hemp and marijuana are of the same species, they have nothing in common agriculturally. Industrial hemp crops are notable for their long, thin, bamboo-like stalks, while the CBD-rich plants in the Folium fields—a strain dubbed WHC1—are short and squat, no higher than 3 feet.

Orochem has filed suit in US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois alleging that Follium has stolen its trade secrets.

Orochem charges that Folium’s “real interest was to get access to and discover the details of Orochem’s proprietary methods and trade secrets for the extraction and purification of CBD.”

Orochem alleges that Folium secretly recruited one of Orochem’s engineers to help create a Follium product based on stolen Orochem technology.

Follium also sent its own employees to supervise the production process. Orochem required them to sign NDAs.

According to Cannabis Business Executive, the Orochem engineer was living in an extended stay hotel with the Follium employees and later went to work for Follium.

The former Orochem engineer then started contacting the contractors and vendors who had help establish the Orochem production process and tried to replicate it for Follium.

Orochem also claims that Follium breached the confidentiality agreements covering the technology.

Follium has recently opened a 50,000 square foot facility to produce phytocannabinoid-rich, THC-free oil using a patent-pending process.

The complaint can be read here.

Although marijuana cultivation and the manufacturing of marijuana-related products is now legal in a number of states, it remains illegal under federal law.

Thus, it will be interesting to see how a federal court handles this dispute. It may open (or close) the way to other pot-related federal court intellectual property cases.

Related Articles

AEON Law Founder Adam Philipp Ranked Among Leading IP Lawyers in Chambers USA Guide

AEON Law founder Adam Philipp is included in this year’s Chambers USA guide of the leading IP attorneys in AEON’s home market of Washington. Based ...
Read More

AEON Law and Founder Adam Philipp Ranked Among World’s Top Patent Professionals in IAM Guide

AEON Law and founder Adam Philipp are recognized in this year’s IAM Patent 1000: The World’s Leading Patent Professionals. Adam was recommended for patent prosecution ...
Read More

Understanding the Dawn Donut Rule for Trademarks

In trademark law, the general rule is that, where two parties seek to use the same trademark in the same geographic area, the earlier (“senior”) ...
Read More

Let's work together.

Contact us to set up a meeting with an attorney or team member.

Stay Informed

Sign up to receive Patent Poetry—a monthly roundup of key IP issues in our signature haiku format. Four articles (only 68 syllables); zero hassle.



Artificial Intelligence

Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Computer Technology & Software

Consumer Electronics

Electrical Devices



Mechanical Devices

Consumer & Retail Products

Hardware & Tools

Toys & Games



Chemical Compounds

Digital Health

Healthcare Products



Books & Publications

Brand Creation

Luxury Products

Photography & Video

Product Design

call us  206.533.3854