After months of uncertainty, the California Secretary of State may finally be preparing to open the flood gates for potential applicants seeking to register trademarks and service marks for cannabis, as well as related goods and services. The Secretary of State’s website, http://www.sos.ca.gov/, now includes a portal specific to the cannabis industry: http://www.sos.ca.gov/business-programs/cannabizfile/, which features important information for cannabis startups, including information on how to register a trademark or service mark with the CA Secretary of State: http://www.sos.ca.gov/business-programs/ts/ and additional important resources.

Does this mean that the California Secretary of State will now proceed to register trademarks and service marks for cannabis? The linked PDF (http://bpd.cdn.sos.ca.gov/cannabizfile/faq2.pdf) appears to suggest just that, as long as the application conforms to the current federal classifications for goods and services, stating in pertinent part: 

“Beginning January 1, 2018, customers may register their cannabis-related trademark or service mark with the California Secretary of State’s office so long as: (1) the mark is lawfully in use in commerce within California; and (2) matches the classification of goods and services adopted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. If the application submitted to register a trademark or service mark is found deficient, the application will be returned to the registrant for correction. Note: Not all cannabis-related products can be registered under current law due to the inability to meet federal classifications. For further information including forms, fees and registration instructions, please visit the California Secretary of State’s Trademark and Service Mark webpage.”

While there are no guarantees, the recent announcement and availability of such resources from the Secretary of State strongly suggest that it behooves sophisticated brand owners to consider preparing an application for filing with the Secretary of State as soon as possible on and after January 1, 2018.

These materials were written by Chris Passarelli (cpassarelli@dpf-law.com) & Danny Zlatnik (dzlatnik@dpf-law.com) of Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty.