USDA: Hemp Farmer Intellectual Property Rights Finalized

Intellectual property rights for cannabis, marijuana, CBD and hemp have long been a point of serious contention for CBD businesses. Now, with both hemp and CBD decriminalized, removed from the list of federally-controlled substances, intellectual property rights for these newly-legal crops are now strengthened. intellectual property law

Hemp farming attorneys in Orange County noted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent announcement that growers of hemp can now officially submit applications for protection of their intellectual property.

Hemp Intellectual Property Protections Offered

Now for the first time since the ill-fated War on Drugs launched, the USDA’s Plant Variety Protection Office expressly affords intellectual property right protection to hemp cultivators, instilling the power to pursue claims against other growers who attempt to capitalize on unique variety of plants developed by other farmers.

Patents allow the person holding them the right to prohibit others from growing, making, using, offering, importing or selling the protected product. U.S. patent law holds that valid patents extend to those inventions that are novel, useful and not obvious.

There are a few different subcategories of patents:

  • Utility – the way it works
  • Design – the way it looks, ornamental properties
  • Plant – for an asexually produced new variety of the plant

To qualify for this protection, plant breeders of new tubers and seeds will have the right to halt others from advertising and profiting off their unique hemp varieties.

Other cultivators can grow, harvest and market products with those varieties – but only with the express permission (usually via contract) from the original owner of that intellectual property, typically in exchange for a royalty fee.

Obtaining Intellectual Property Protection for Unique Hemp Strains

California hemp farmers should seriously consider securing this protection, if they haven’t already. Not only does it secure the product of your hard work and investment, it wards off claims that you may be infringing on the rights of another. Certification doesn’t automatically guarantee a dispute will be settled one way or the other, but the company holding certification will have the stronger claim.

Our Orange County hemp farm attorneys can help with IP strategies for hemp growers, as well as prepare and submit the electronic application on your behalf.

Growth and production of industrial hemp isn’t new in the U.S., but it’s operated in a vast legal gray area under the heavy thumb of federal regulation. Federal patent and trademark agencies in the past issued express refusals to issue intellectual property protection rights to any product or idea that couldn’t be marketed as legal. Thus, cannabis and virtually all related products – hemp included – were deprived, leading to branding rip-offs left-and-right.

What changed was the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp and CBD, removing both from the list of federally-controlled substances.

Although some hemp farmers and ancillary businesses may have an understandable degree of wariness, consider that the U.S. Department of Health itself actually just obtained a utility patent for possible treatment of brain damage regeneration using non-psychoactive elements of the cannabis plant.

If you have questions about the benefits or process of obtaining a patent for industrial hemp in Southern California, our Orange County hemp cultivation attorneys can help.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, ancillary companies, patients, doctors and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

Here’s how to keep counterfeiters from duplicating your marijuana products, April 30, 2019, By John Schroyer, Marijuana Business Daily

More Blog Entries:

California Industrial Hemp Farming: What to Know to Do It Legal, May 9, 2019, Orange County Hemp Lawyer Blog