The Importance of Intellectual Property (IP) Rights in the Emerging Cannabis Industry in Canada

The medical and recreational cannabis industry in Canada is an emerging and fast growing business sector. Competition in this field should be fierce. 

As with most commercial endeavours, success will largely depend on the ability to distinguish one’s products and services from others, as well as the ability to capitalize on innovation. This is where intellectual property (IP) rights — trademarks, patents, plant breeders’ rights, industrial designs, copyrights, etc. — play a crucial role. 

Cannabis businesses should register trademarks to protect their name and brands. Strong branding will be especially important in the early stages following the legalization of recreational cannabis, before the market matures. Trademarks can protect many things, such as words, logos, colours, sounds, shapes of goods or packaging, and will include holograms, scents, tastes and textures in 2019. 

Businesses can also obtain patents to protect a new technology or process. IP rights also play a vital role in the protection of research and development activities, and the exploitation of breakthroughs. 

Plant Breeders’ Rights, a type of intellectual property allowing plant breeders to protect their new varieties like an inventor would protect a new invention with a patent, should be another interesting avenue for those creating new strains of cannabis. 

Cannabis products will come in all shapes and sizes. Distinctive-looking new products or packaging boasting an original shape, configuration, pattern, ornament, or any combination of these, that does not serve a practical function, can be protected via industrial design registration. 

Copyright will protect original literary and artistic works, notably on advertising material, packaging and websites. 

And there is more… 

Langlois lawyers can help you navigate the intellectual property landscape to protect and enhance the value of your brand and other intangible assets. 

Our intellectual property services include: 

  • Legal and strategic advice on intellectual property matters
  • Trade secrets and confidentiality agreements and policies
  • IP contract drafting and negotiation
  • Registration and enforcement/litigation of IP rights and domain names           

All in all, with a strong IP strategy, those looking to make their mark in the emerging Canadian cannabis industry should avoid many, well… growing pains.

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