Pot’s illicit history makes patenting hard in the legal-weed era – Bloomberg

J. Bradley White

Sep 30, 2019

While many companies in the pot sector count their intellectual property among their most valuable assets, it seems few have been able to secure patents for that intellectual property. In a recent article, Bloomberg writer Kristine Owram focuses on patent applications made by Ebbu — the cannabis researcher that Canopy Growth acquired in 2018 — and points out that one of Ebbu’s first applications has been rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office three times. According to Kristine Owram, this failure to secure patents represents a broader problem that the newly legalized pot sector is facing — it’s difficult to prove the novelty of an invention in an industry that has been illicit for decades. In the article, Osler partner and intellectual property lawyer Brad White explains that, in the cannabis sector, patent applications can be made in a number of areas, from formulations, extraction methods and growing techniques, to therapeutic uses and consumption devices.  

“It’s almost like we’re seeing the birth of a new subset of the pharmaceutical industry, with the research and the money that’s behind it now,” Brad says.

He suggests that the difficulty in securing patents may result in increased amalgamation among cannabis companies as they try to “protect themselves by building robust patent portfolios.”

Brad explains that “[h]aving those patents is huge because you can either use them as a shield to protect what you’re doing or you can use them as a sword to go after those that are trying to rip off your technology.”

Either way, he concludes, “[t]here’s going to be a lot of really interesting litigation.”

Read Kristine Owram’s full article from September 13, 2019, “Pot’s illicit history makes patenting hard in the legal-weed era,” online at Bloomberg.