Landmark marijuana patent lawsuit to proceed per judge’s order

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The debate pits United Cannabis against Pure Hemp Collective over a patent held by the former

Last July, United Cannabis Corporation (UCANN) filed a lawsuit for patent infringement against Pure Hemp Collective. The company alleges that it has been able to conclusively demonstrate that Pure Hemp ripped off a patent for one of its tinctures and, despite Pure Hemp’s attempts to squash the suit, a federal judge has said that it will continue. This marks the first time a patent lawsuit has been heard in a US court.

UCANN owns Patent No. 9,730,911, which reads, “Cannabis extracts and methods of preparing and using same.” In confirming that one of Pure Hemp’s products was a direct copy of a tincture covered by the patent, the company’s lawyer asserts that UCANN personnel purchased Pure Hemp Vina Bell 500mg and tested it against UCANN’s, finding that the two were an exact match.

An attorney specializing in intellectual property (IP) for Cole Schotz, David Gold, indicates that the lawsuit is important for two reasons. He explains, “There’s this case in particular, which has to do with this particular patent that’s going to impact companies that are creating these types of products. Obviously, that’s a huge issue for them. The bigger issue that we’re all going to be looking at is just how the courts are going to deal with a cannabis-related patent.”

The other reason, according to Gold, concerns whether the product can legally be patentable. He states, “It could be construed as an over-broad patent that’s going to impact a lot of companies creating these types of products. The second question … is whether any of these products—there could be a very sophisticated, unique, new, novel, non-obvious product that is very much patentable that there’s no prior art on that at some point is going to be the subject of litigation. Are the courts going to hear it? How is the judge going to treat it when it’s clearly used in connection with these controlled substances?”

If a judge determines that UCANN is correct, it could set a new – and dangerous – precedent for the marijuana industry. It could lead to other legal actions launched by one company against another, arguing that their extracts are being illegally copied. Gold adds, “If somebody’s already been in the business of creating these high-potency cannabis liquids that they know that they were doing it certainly before this other company, then they may even join in the case in an invalidity suit. Or they might bring the third-party re-examination action knowing that they’re sort of next in line to be attacked on this.”

All eyes in the marijuana industry are certainly going to be paying close attention to how this lawsuit develops.