The third-largest tobacco company in the US just won a trademark infringement lawsuit against a small California cannabis company.
Earlier this year, tobacco conglomerate ITG Brands filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles-based Capna Intellectual for ripping off the logo of its Kool cigarettes brand. Capna, which produces a variety of legal adult-use cannabis products under the Bloom Brands name, was accused of intentionally copying the interlocking “OOs” from ITG's Kool logo to use in its own Bloom logo.
The lawsuit called the Bloom logo a deliberate and “transparent rip-off of ITG’s Kool marks,” according to court documents reported by Ganjapreneur. The lawsuit further argued that this trademark infringement was “intentionally carried out in bad faith, or with reckless disregard for or with willful blindness to ITG’s rights in the Kool marks, for the purpose of trading on ITG’s reputation and diluting the Kool marks.”
This week, a federal judge decided the case in ITG's favor. US District Court Judge Otis D. Wright ordered Capna to immediately cease and desist using the Bloom logo or any other marking using interlocking “OOs” or circles. The cannabis company must now notify all of its retail distributors about the court's decision by November 15th, and is required to give them the option of exchanging products with the old logo for newly-branded items.
Instead of appealing the case further, Capna seems to be intent on following the court order. The company's website now features a new Bloom logo in which the two “OOs” are slightly touching, rather than fully interlocking. The website also features a banner stating that “Bloom is working on a new look! Stay tuned for a major announcement.”
Now that the US cannabis market has become a multi-billion-dollar industry, established corporations are keeping their eyes out for weed companies that might be infringing on their trademarks. In one of the earliest of these cases, a Nevada cannabis producer was forced to rename its popular “Gorilla Glue” strain to “GG” after being sued by the company that makes the actual Gorilla Glue. The Girl Scouts of America have even had to step up to defend their trademarks from dispensaries selling “Girl Scout Cookies” strains.
Most of these lawsuits have focused on chocolates and other edibles with logos that mimic candy companies' trademarks, though. Hershey's has sued dozens of companies for making edibles like “Mr. Dankbar” and “Reefer's Peanut Butter Cups,” and the Ferrara Candy Company has lashed out at pot producers for ripping off its popular Nerds Rope trademarks. Mars Wrigley also just filed three lawsuits against several companies in the US and Canada for allegedly infringing on its Skittles, Starburst, and Life Savers candies.