By: Darrin Duber-Smith
Trademarks are important to marketers since they can be tremendous branding tools, and sometimes this intellectual property must be defended against marketers that aren't even competitors. Imagine how long it would take Nike to call it's legal team if someone discovered that another company was using its coveted "swoosh" or the name "Nike", even if it was a vegetarian restaurant. This stuff is worth defending! And so it is the same with Ohio-based The Gorilla Glue Company who sued a Nevada-based cannabis company, GG Strains LLC, for using its "Gorilla Glue" nomenclature with regard to three of its products.
Of course, this is particularly interesting because it concerns a cannabis company that sells in a product category still deemed illegal in the United States (but one that is nonetheless sold in almost 30 states for both medical and recreational uses) infringing on the intellectual property rights of a glue maker. A glue maker? But trademarks are trademarks in the eyes of a federal court whose job in this case was to make sure there would be no confusion in the marketplace, and a quick internet search reveals several pot-oriented images on the first page alone.
The result? The two entities reached a settlement wherein GC Strains will have to transition away from the name, any gorilla-oriented imagery, or any other similarities to Gorilla Glue trademarks by this time next year. The company will have to re-brand its three products, which shouldn't be a terribly difficult task considering it's a silly name for strain of cannabis anyway; and Gorilla Glue will retain its identity as a Ohio-made glue and not be confused with a strain of weed in Las Vegas. Indeed all of this reminds us of the role that the legal and regulatory environment must play in maintaining the integrity of intellectual property rights in commerce. Without these protections, ethical marketing would be a rather difficult endeavor.
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