Marijuana has been around since before recorded history, but as it was illegal for almost the last 80 years of U.S. history, we’re only just now seeing a rush on pot-related patents. Technically, as our Los Angeles marijuana attorneys can explain, the classification of cannabis within the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA) has in turn meant it would be tough for anyone patent or trademark holder to defend their right to that protection in federal court. Not to mention: Is it even possible to patent a plant that’s been around forever?
As an increasing number of states approve marijuana for legal sale and use (not to mention the fact that it’s now fully legal in Canada), companies are rushing to secure patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which according to a recent Reuters report increased the number of patents issued containing the words “marijuana” or “cannabis” from 14 in 2016 to 29 in 2017 to 39 last year.
Of course, securing patents for possibly new uses of cannabis products isn’t an entirely new practice in the U.S., where the age-old botanical only first gained any measure of legality in California in 1996. But even before that, starting somewhere in the 1990s, some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms started quietly securing U.S. patents for medical applications of marijuana. Abbvie reportedly now has the most, with 59 patents and 95 U.S.-published medical applications of the drug. Merck is No. 2., with 35 patents and 55 U.S.-published medical applications. There are also several patents held by universities – and even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (which holds 11 patents and 39 published applications). Continue reading