some cannabis flower in a jar

Trademark Protection for Cannabis-Related Products – Part II: State Trademark Protection

Cannalex Law – Guest Blog Post

Our colleague Dave Oppenhuizen is a patent and trademark lawyer registered with the United States Patent and Trademark office.  He is a member of the Michigan Bar Association’s Marijuana Law Section, and provides intellectual property legal advice to various clients, including those considering state legal marijuana-related activities.


In our previous blog, we discussed the Federal Law aspects of Trademark protections for cannabis-related activity.  What follows is a discussion under Michigan law.

Trademark Rights under Michigan State Law

State trademark registration is likely the best approach for those who live in a state where marijuana is legalized for recreational or medical purposes.  For example, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado currently grant state trademark registrations for marijuana-related goods.

And as of December 2016, Michigan has joined these few states in granting state registrations for trademarks used in connection with selling medical marijuana.  

In order to obtain a trademark registration for cannabis in Michigan, the applicant must actually be using the trademark in connection with the lawful sale of marijuana.  This means that the applicant must be a licensed caregiver who is using the trademark to sell medical marijuana to his or her registered patients.  Any other use of the trademark would be unlawful under Michigan law, and therefore the trademark could not be registered.

Admittedly, there is not much benefit to owning a trademark registration in this scenario described above.  After all, there is little purpose in owning a trademark that can only be used to sell cannabis to five or less people?  The benefit is that this allows current caregivers to establish trademark rights in a name that they hope to later capitalize on if they are successful in becoming licensed under the MMFLA.  

In other words, the State of Michigan is now taking reservations on cannabis-related trademarks from caregivers hoping to expand under the MMFLA.  This is a large opportunity, but only for those who act quickly.