Intellectual property (IP) protection for cannabis inventions is increasingly important with the legalization of hemp and the expanding number of states in the U.S. legalizing cannabis for medical and/or recreational use. There are now numerous options for protecting cannabis plants, products, methods, devices, and biotechnology.

Most new cannabis inventions that relate to unique formulations, compositions, extracts, methods, processes, apparatus, devices, modified genes, biotechnology, etc. can be protected with U.S. utility patents. Cannabis plants can be protected in a variety of different ways.

Hemp and marijuana plants both produce cannabidiol (CBD), but are differentiated by their levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Hemp plants (less than 0.3% THC) can be protected in the U.S. with all of the same IP options that are available for any plant invention. This includes:

  • utility patents
  • plant patents
  • plant variety protection (PVP)

Marijuana plants (greater than 0.3% THC) can be protected in the U.S. with:

  • utility patents
  • plant patents

U.S. PVP protection is not currently available for marijuana. U.S. trademark protection can be obtained for cannabis plants, products, and services, with some exceptions.

Also, international patent protection, plant breeder’s rights (PBR), and trademarks are available for cannabis in some countries.

The cannabis industry is complex and rapidly evolving. Our firm has extensive experience obtaining IP protection for plants and plant-based inventions in the U.S. and worldwide, and we have been highly involved in the cannabis space for many years. Therefore, we are uniquely positioned to advise and provide IP services for cannabis clients.


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