A California cannabis company just got sued for allegedly copying the Kool cigarettes logo, in the latest installment of a growing trademark war between the weed industry and major corporations.
Last week, ITG, the tobacco conglomerate that manufactures Kool menthol cigarettes, filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles-based Capna Intellectual, which sells weed under the Bloom Brands name. In the suit, ITG is arguing that the Bloom Brands logo includes interlocking “OOs” which mimic the interlocking “OOs” in Kool's established logo. Bloom reportedly filed a trademark application with the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2019 to register this logo for use in e-cigarette and vape sales.
ITG called Bloom's logo “a transparent rip-off of ITG’s Kool marks,” according to court documents reported by Ganjapreneur. The tobacco giant alleges that this trademark infringement is deliberate “and 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.”
Trademark disputes like these are becoming increasingly common as the cannabis industry goes legit. In 2019, Woodstock Ventures, the proprietors of the famous Woodstock festival, fought a legal battle against similarly-named Woodstock Roots in order to launch their own weed brand. Woodstock Ventures eventually prevailed, but in most of these trademark disputes, cannabis companies have been forced to give up their brand names or logos.
Black market cannabis edibles often copy the logos and packaging of popular candies, but state-legal weed companies who have tried to do the same have often ended up in court. Chocolate industry leader Hershey's Co. has dished out dozens of lawsuits against edibles marketed as “Reefer's Peanut Butter Cups” and “Mr. Dankbar,” and hot sauce manufacturer Tapatio also served a lawsuit against a weed-infused “Trapatio” condiment in 2017.
The Ferrara Candy Company has also been waging a long battle against weed companies that have been ripping off its popular Nerds Rope trademarks. Last year, two kids were briefly hospitalized after eating THC-infused Nerds knockoffs that someone donated to a Utah food bank, and Ferrara has been working overtime to distance themselves from this bad press.
Names of weed strains have also gotten pot manufacturers into hot water with established companies. Nevada cannabis manufacturer GG Strains were forced to rename their popular “Gorilla Glue #4” strain to GG #4 after a lawsuit by the actual Gorilla Glue company. The Girl Scouts of America Organization has also sent cease and desist letters to dispensaries selling the “Girl Scout Cookies” strain, prompting many stores to refer to the strain as “GSC.”
Although many of these weed companies are clearly riffing on existing corporations' trademarks, some of these trademark battles are far less clear-cut. A Colorado CBD manufacturer by the name of Honest Herbal got hit by a lawsuit from Jessica Alba's Honest Co., claiming that the CBD company was trying to trade on their reputation.