A rose by another name might smell as sweet, but turns out the name of your bong does matter, and allegations of brand heisting are turning into a big buzzkill. Companies from California to Florida have found themselves named defendants in trademark lawsuits, filed by a luxury brand German water pipe manufacturer and its licensed U.S. seller. The firms allege that their products – which can go for thousands of dollars – have become verified smoker status symbols, the benchmark for cannabis cool – and that it’s being illegally hawked by head shops across the country. L.A. marijuana trademark lawyers understand that at the the heart of these dozens of claims just in California over the pricey pipes are the ways in which the alleged infringement cost the company sales and and diluted its brand.
What complicates cases like this is that for now, marijuana remains illegal under federal law – specifically 21 U.S. Code Section 863. The company, which does possess a legitimate trademark, officially refers to its product as a bong, proudly advertises its awards from publications like High Times magazine and is open about its commitment to excellence in cannabis consumer goods and advocating for the expansion of marijuana legalization laws. The reason that is problematic is that products in violation of federal law cannot seek trademark protection, and many companies are reticent to go into a courtroom and testify that their primary product violates federal statute. However, the firm has managed some success in securing settlements from alleged counterfeit distributors.
Further, a company spokesman was quoted by The Associated Press as saying the firm is willing to go to court to defend these cases, and is seeking millions of dollars in damages.