Can something that comes from the earth be owned by a single person?
As it turns out, the answer is (a nuanced) yes; as long as the new strain of cannabis is sufficiently modified, it can theoretically obtain patent protection.
But how should a cannabis entrepreneur think about acquiring a patent on a product that does not touch the plant itself but is still nevertheless ancillary to the business (a vaporizer capable of yielding a 10x THC output for example?).
Well, pretty much the same way. We will return to this more after reviewing what precisely a patent is and what it covers.
As a general matter, patents are granted to those inventors whose ideas are novel, non-obvious, useful and sufficiently articulated by the inventor. Patents remain valid for a period of 20 years, an adequate amount of time to allow the inventor to profit from his unique idea without monopolizing the technology indefinitely.
Patents, as you may recall, are federally granted licenses for a given piece of intellectual property. The cannabis patent provides the owner with a set of federally granted rights for making, using and selling the patented property.
For the litigious entrepreneur, a patent may be viewed as a license to sue. Competing companies unlawfully using and selling the patented technology are infringing the rights of the patent holder. The infringer may therefore be taken to court and subjected to hefty financial penalties.
Hopefully, it is now apparent to the cannabis entrepreneur just how valuable a patent can be in his arsenal of company assets. Beware, do not cause your company’s failure by forfeiting your right to obtain a patent.
Is My Idea Eligible for Patent Protection?
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