Industry Sectors

Intellectual Property in the Cannabis Sector

The cannabis industry in Canada has recently blossomed, due to its recent status as legal for medicinal purposes, and its controlled legalization for recreational use which took effect in October 2018.

Accordingly, protection of intellectual property assets has become paramount, both for Canadian cannabis companies looking for advice on international protection, and for international cannabis companies doing business in Canada.

Powerful protection can often be obtained through trademark, patent, industrial design, plant breeders rights, and copyright, for various aspects of your innovative product or brand.

Though there is a general restriction in Canada against patents to plants and life forms, cannabis plants can often be patented elsewhere. And in Canada, our team has extensive experience finding patentable subject matter in your cannabis-related invention, be it a new plant cell or gene, uses (including medical uses) of cannabis or specific cannabinoids, formulations, administration methods, methods of manufacturing and purifying, and just about anything else you believe is novel and innovative. Plant breeders’ rights can also be obtained for new varieties of cannabis plant.

Industrial designs (design patents) can be useful for protecting the aesthetics of cannabis-associated wares, packaging or product.

Trademarks can be obtained, both for cannabis, and related wares and services. For cannabis itself, our team can guide you regarding the advertising and marketing restrictions that should be taken into account when choosing a brand.

The regulatory requirements to become a licensed producer, to obtain a dealer’s license, or to sell, import or export cannabis products are evolving, and can be quite complex, comprising legislation including the Cannabis Act, the Food and Drugs Act, and in some cases, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and Narcotic Control Regulations.

Our team has specific experience in the following aspects of cannabis-related IP:

  • Navigating the regulatory requirements under the Cannabis Act & Regulations, the Industrial Hemp Regulations, the Controlled Drugs & Substances Act and the Food and Drugs Act to:
    • become licensed cultivators (standard or micro) of cannabis
    • become licensed processors (standard or micro) of cannabis, including the processing of cannabis oil for use in association with topicals, edibles and the like
    • conduct research and development relating to cannabis, cannabis strains and derivatives thereof
    • conduct analytical testing on cannabis and cannabis related products
    • import and/or export cannabis (wet, dry or seeds) into or from Canada
  • Navigating the Controlled Drugs & Substances Act to prepare applications to obtain Dealer’s Licenses to conduct research and development relating to Cannabis oil extraction and new product development
  • medical use and method of medical treatment patents
  • administration method patents, including administration devices
  • oral formulations
  • topical formulations
  • nasally-administered formulations
  • suppository formulations
  • sustained and extended release formulations
  • plant breeders rights (generally)
  • trademarks for cannabis-related wares
  • trademarks for cannabis
  • trademarks for cannabis services and a cannabis “mascot”
  • litigation surrounding cannabis trademarks

Have a question or need more information on intellectual property in the cannabis sector? Let’s talk – see which members of our team can help you get started:

Patents: Charles Boulakia
Trademarks: Joanna Pitkin
Litigation: Kenneth Hanna and Matthew Norwood
Regulatory: Kenneth Hanna and Abbas Kassam