Trademarks and hemp
Trademarks can be a valuable resource to help a company differentiate their hemp lines in the market. A trademark is a word, symbol, sound or device, which serves to indicate the source of seed, plants, fruit or other products or services. This is in direct contrast to a patent or Plant Variety Rights, which are often forms of protection on the product or seed itself.
There are a number of options for a trademark, but the key to a good trademark or brand is one that helps differentiate your product or seeds from your competitors, allowing the purchaser to quickly find what they are looking for.
It is important to remember that the value of a trademark is centered on the reputation to the consumer of the goods associated with the mark. Based on that reputation, the consumer has an impression that they know the source of the goods and the quality and/or characteristics they expect from those goods or services.
There are two forms of trademark rights in the US: common law and federal rights. Common law rights are based upon actual use of a mark in commerce and extend to the locations where a mark has actually been used. An organization who wants to provide notice of their common law rights may use the ™ symbol with the mark.
Federal trademark rights are provided through the registration of your trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). Federal trademark rights provide the trademark owner with rights across the entire US and once a mark is registered, allows the trademark owner with the right to use the ® symbol.
Identifying trademarks and their value to your organization is an important first step. After that, it is vital for an organization to set up systems to protect and maintain its trademark rights, as failure to properly maintain a mark can result in the loss of rights to a very valuable mark.
In the plant and fruit industry, a trademark is intended to identify the source of the plant or fruit variety and not the plant or fruit variety itself. In other words, if a company has a word that they would like to use as a trademark, refrain from using the word as the varietal/cultivar name of the plant in any publications or brochures, and even patent or Plant Breeders Rights applications. Doing so prevents the possibility of your trademark from becoming part of the public domain and losing the enforceability of a good mark.
Who can I contact at CFY to find out additional information regarding Utility Patents, Plant Patents and PVPs?
Please contact James Weatherly (firstname.lastname@example.org at 970-492-1100) or Barbara Campbell (email@example.com at 970-492-1100) for any additional information or questions that you may have regarding protecting your plant variety.
Articles on Ag IP
“Why Should Seed Businesses use Copyrights” SeedWorld, February 2018
“Its not-just-patents-pvp” SeedWorld, January 2018
“Protecting Plant Genetics” GrowerTalks Magazine, to November 2016.
“Hey you stole my plant!” GrowerTalks Magazine, November 2012.
“What Happens When A Patent Expires?” Germination, January 2012.
“Obama Reforms Patent Law,” SeedWorld, December 2011.
“What Happens When A Patent Expires?” Seed World, December 2011.
“Plant Patent Primer: A step-by-step guide for protecting your new plants with a U.S. plant patent,” Greenhouse Grower, Mid-September 2011.
Developing an IP Strategy: Plant Patents,” Greenhouse Product News, vol. 21 number 9, September 2011.
“A Plant by Any Name is Not the Same,” GrowerTalks Magazine, June
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