Woodstock Wins Federal Lawsuit, Can Now Use Festival Name to Brand Weed
After a year of legal battles, the promoters responsible for the world’s most famous concert can now license the Woodstock name to cannabis companies. Will '69 Skunk be coming to a dispensary near you?
Published on July 31, 2019

[Editor's note: Shortly after this was published, the Associated Press reported that Woodstock 50's organizers canceled the festival due to a series of complications.]

The proprietors of the Woodstock music festival won a federal lawsuit to claim cannabis industry branding rights from a similarly named brand, Woodstock Roots. After a year of legal battles, the promoters responsible for the world’s most famous concert, Woodstock Ventures, can now license the Woodstock name to cannabis companies across the legal weed landscape.

According to the Associated Press, Michael Lang, the promoter responsible for the original Woodstock — as well as the decidedly less beloved reboots in 1994 and 1999 — argued that branding legal cannabis falls within the company’s "natural zone of expansion." As Woodstock Ventures prepares for the 50th anniversary celebration of their Summer of Love spectacular in just two weeks, Lang said that the brand has been in partnership talks with a “major marijuana dispensary.”

But before Lang and the original team of concert promoters could dip their toes into the legal weed industry, they had to duke it out with Woodstock Roots, a Pennsylvania-based company that makes smoking accessories like rolling papers, lighters, vape pods, and hemp CBD oil under their own Woodstock label. Woodstock Roots claimed that its trademark on “smoker’s articles” under the Woodstock name covered any inroads into cannabis licensing.

According to US District Judge Paul Gardephe, though, Woodstock Venture’s planned expansion into state legal weed did not fall under Woodstock Roots’ “smoker’s articles” trademark. With no legal protection on other products under the Woodstock name, Judge Gardephe eventually denied Woodstock Roots’ claim and awarded Lang and his Woodstock Ventures associates naming rights.

It is still not clear which cannabis company Woodstock Ventures plans to collaborate with on its line of legal weed. But if they want to get product to market in time for the 50th anniversary of the original event, they’ll have to move fast. With the loosely-planned anniversary concert still tentatively planned for mid-August — despite an unconfirmed location and early cancellations from acts like Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, Dead and Company, and more — Lang and associates will have their hands full this summer.

Still, with half a century of experience pulling legendary performances out of the mud, we wouldn’t be surprised to find eighths of Woodstock branded ‘69 Skunk and ‘99 Fire in dispensaries before the summer is over. 

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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