Numerous cannabis businesses have recently sought and secured federal intellectual property protection for their cannabis-related innovations, for example patents to protect novel cannabis varieties, growing methods, extraction methods, etc. However, to enforce those federal intellectual property rights, the IP owner must file suit in federal court asserting those rights against another cannabis company, and there remains uncertainty in the industry as to whether a federal court will actually enforce cannabis-related intellectual property rights at this time. That question may soon be answered.

On September 27, 2017, Orochem Technologies, Inc. filed a lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois seeking to assert and enforce trade secret rights under the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) against Whole Hemp Company, LLC, a former client/partner of Orochem. If the court ultimately enforces federal trade secret rights for cannabis-related inventions in this case, it could be a strong indication that other federal intellectual property rights, such as patent rights, would also be enforceable in federal court. As such, the outcome of this case will likely have a far reaching and long lasting impact on how the cannabis industry approaches and deals with intellectual property.

For a copy of the complaint that was filed by Plaintiff Orochem, please click here.