CALL US: 206.533.3854
CALL US  206.533.3854
AEON Law logo full color transparent
By Miran Rijavec - India : Himachal Pradesh : Manali (... and up to Leh ...) : Cannabis Sativa var. Indica : Hemp : Grass : Marijuana., CC BY 2.0,

Little Prior Art Exists for Marijuana Patents

Little Prior Art
Exists for Marijuana;
Trademarks Rejected

In July, United Cannabis Corporation of Colorado (UCANN) filed a patent infringement suit against Pure Hemp Collective, also of Colorado.

According to the complaint,

UCANN is a biotechnology company dedicated to the development of phytocannabinoid-based therapeutic products supported by proprietary and patented technologies for the pharmaceutical, medical, and industrial markets. Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids, a diverse class of chemical compounds containing cannabinol, that occur naturally in the cannabis plant. Phytocannabinoid therapies treat an array of conditions and diseases by imitating compounds in the human body that mediate communication between cells.

The patent at issue is U.S. Patent No. 9730911, titled Cannabis Extracts and Methods of Preparing and Using Same, which was issued in August of 2017.

As the complaint notes, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a cannabis-based drug for the first time in June 2018.”

Cannabis is currently classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Class I drugs (like heroin and LSD) are considered to have “no currently accepted medical use.” Trafficking in marijuana can be a federal crime, even in states where it’s legal.

However, as the complaint notes,

the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has decided to readdress its classification of cannabis. A spokesperson for the agency told Business Insider that the DEA was on its way to reclassifying CBD as a Schedule II or Schedule III drug.

The conflicting state and federal treatments of cannabis leads to some interesting intellectual property issues.

For example, marijuana-themed trademark applications (governed by federal law) are usually rejected.

Another issue is that because the legal cannabis industry is so new, there is little prior art to help judges and patent examiners determine patentability.

Ironically, one of the earliest marijuana-related patents was issued to the US Department of Health and Human Services in 2003.

Related Articles

Federal Circuit Affirms Blockchain Gem Patent Is Invalid

The Federal Circuit has affirmed a lower court’s decision finding the claims of a patent for preventing gemstone counterfeiting invalid. The case is Rady v. ...
Read More

Tennessee Passes Law Against AI Voice Copies

The state of Tennessee has passed a law against the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to copy a person’s voice. The law, signed on March ...
Read More

Bill Proposes IP Protection for Golf Courses

Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) have introduced the Bolstering Intellectual Rights against Digital Infringement Enhancement (a.k.a. the BIRDIE Act), which proposes amending ...
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