Insights
Publications

Will It Go Forward? First Cannabis Patent Infringement Case Filed in Federal Court

8/9/2018 Articles

A patent infringement case pending in front of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado has the potential to set an important precedent that will have ramifications for many of our clients in this space.  In United Cannabis Corporation v. Pure Hemp Collective, Inc., United Cannabis alleges that Pure Hemp has infringed its patent related to a liquid formulation of plant cannabinoid extracts.   

This is a fascinating case that brings an issued cannabis patent into federal court in the context of a dispute over activity that is legal under state law but illegal, and politically sensitive, under federal law.  It is unclear whether the court will allow a cannabis patent infringement case to go forward, particularly where it seeks money damages for the accused infringer’s sale of cannabis.  As the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has noted, “the principle that inventions are invalid if they are principally designed to serve immoral or illegal purposes has not been applied broadly in recent years.”  Juicy Whip, Inc. v. Orange Bang, Inc., 185 F. 3d 1364, 1366-67 (Fed. Cir. 1999).

If the case does go forward, the plaintiff will likely need to produce potentially incriminating evidence directly under the supervision of the federal court, including evidence of its own cannabis operations and sales to substantiate its case. 

If the court dismisses the case or otherwise balks at enforcing a cannabis patent, the case could be ripe for a politically charged appeal.  The plaintiff could claim that its federally-granted property right was vitiated without due process. 

We are watching the developments of this case carefully. The result could provide guidance to entrepreneurs considering applying for patents on cannabis-related inventions, or enforcing such patents in court.

Firm Highlights

Publication

What California’s New Security Law Means to Your Business

Commonsense IoT security steps that startups and small business should consider to comply with California’s new law California recently enacted a new law, Senate Bill 327, that requires companies that make Internet of Things...

Read More
Publication

In the Weeds: Marijuana Legalization & Employment Laws

Over the last several years, attitudes towards marijuana use have rapidly changed in the United States. According to a 2018 Pew Research Survey, 62 percent of U.S. respondents said marijuana use should be legal...

Read More
Publication

Cannabis Companies and the California Consumer Privacy Act

Read More
Publication

CBD in Foods and Beverages? Not Quite Yet

Read More
Publication

California Cannabis Cultivators Face Legal Challenges as Temporary Licenses Expire

California Cannabis Cultivators Stuck Without Licenses: Ab-97 Gives Some Relief, but Immediate Stop-Gap Measures Still Necessary Over the past few months, thousands of California cannabis farms that had been operating legally with temporary state...

Read More
Publication

Insurance for the Cannabis Industry Program Takeaways

I recently moderated a Bar Association of San Francisco Insurance Section program co-sponsored with the Cannabis Law Section. The program highlighted recent changes to local insurance requirements and market availability of coverage for cannabis...

Read More
Publication

Evicting Tenants Over “Illegal” Cannabis Operation Comes Back to Bite Landlords in Coverage

A 6th Circuit case decided earlier this year demonstrates how positions taken by insureds in prior litigation can impact or foreclose coverage in subsequent disputes with insurers. See K.V.G. Properties, Inc. v. Westfield Ins...

Read More
Publication

Who 'Owns' a Secret? Whether Trade Secret Licensees Have Standing to Sue in California

If the eye-popping damages awards in several recent lawsuits are any indication, companies are increasingly coming to see their private information as one of their most valuable assets—and California juries apparently agree. For example...

Read More
News

Farella Braun + Martel Attorneys Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© 2020

Read More
Publication

Doing Business With the Cannabis Industry? Make Sure Your Insurance Will Cover You

By Shanti Eagle, Farella Braun + Martel, and Martin Fox-Foster, Emergent Risk Insurance Services Much has been written about the difficulties and limitations of insuring leaf-touching cannabis businesses. However, any individual or company simply interacting...

Read More