You may not have heard of Nevada-based cannabusiness GG Strains, but you’ve probably smoked their proprietary products. Jackie Don Peabody, one of GG Strains’ two co-founders is the grower responsible for the notoriously sticky Gorilla Glue #4. Coming in as California’s most popular strain for the past year and change, Gorilla Glue #4 has now garnered even more attention, this time from the adhesive company that inspired the strain name, and the original Gorilla Glue Co. is not looking to collaborate.
According to The Cannabist, the Ohio-based Gorilla Glue Co. has filed a federal trademark infringement lawsuit against GG Strains, claiming that the legal weed purveyors are “unlawfully advertising and selling products and services under a confusingly similar name to Gorilla Glue's trademarks, in violation and dilution of Gorilla Glue's trademark rights.”
What started as an illicit drug named after the strain’s tendency to leave glue-like resin covering user's hands, has now become a legal product sold in state-approved stores across the country. And while the adhesive company has already offered to settle the claim out of court, with growers all over the nation planting GG Strains’ genetics and selling it under the Gorilla Glue moniker, the Nevada-based company is worried that caving on this lawsuit could spell trouble for weed businesses outside their purview.
“If we settle with these guys outside of court, they’re going to go after everybody,” GG Strains co-founder Ross Johnson said, referring to all of the dispensaries and cultivators selling GG’s strains across legal weed states.
He’s not far off, either. Earlier this year, the Girl Scouts of America sent a cease and desist letter to Oakland, California’s Magnolia dispensary, instructing them to stop selling any product labeled with the “Girl Scout Cookies” same, a trademark of the wildlife association.
The move from criminal nickname to legally sold brand name has also caused problems for California’s Lowell Farms, who were served their own cease and desist letter from the Coachella Music Festival for selling cannabis crowns and an herb blend named after the festival.
For GG Strains, pushing the Gorilla Glue case to a courtroom, instead of ceding to the larger company could have long-reaching implications for cannabis trademark precedent.
“We’re not millionaires, we’re cannabis breeders and cultivators,” Johnson told The Cannabist. “Most people have backed down from corporate businesses, so no case has set precedent as of yet. Down the line, this (case) will set the precedent.”
Representatives for the Gorilla Glue Co., on the other hand, say that with weed legal in over half the country, it’s time to treat the multi-billion dollar industry the same way as Fortune 500 companies.
“It is a business that should be held to the same standards of fair play in branding that apply to all other businesses,” Thomas F. Hankinson, Gorilla Glue Co.’s attorney, said. “GG Strains not only took the name, but intentionally traded on Gorilla Glue’s reputation for high-quality adhesives’ ‘stickiness.'”
If they don’t end up settling, GG Strains will argue that even the federal government could tell the difference between the two products, with plenty of room in the consumer market for both brands. After all, Dove Soap and Dove Chocolates are able to coexist without anyone pouring bodywash over an ice cream sundae.
“We’re not selling glue,” Catherine M. Franklin, GG Strain’s interim CEO, said, adding that Gorilla Glue #4 was denied a federal trademark because it was a federally illicit substance, not because they were violating trademarks on Gorilla Glue Co.’s products. “It was a name that kind of stuck, we didn’t piggyback off anything. Nobody is buying this thing because they like glue.”
In the meantime, the company has rebranded their strain as the abbreviated GG#4 and is encouraging other brands selling the company’s genetic blend to do the same. If a settlement is made, Franklin said the company would need a two-year grace period to help the wider industry transition to the new moniker.