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Trademarks in Cannabis: Where Did All the ‘Star Wars’ Strains Go?

May 4, 2018
When it comes to intellectual property, it appears that the Force is with George Lucas and his formidable legal team.

“Brands that hold famous marks related to entertainment or other goods that would be consumed by minors are especially sensitive to association with the cannabis industry.”
Deserae Weitmann, Corporate Counsel at Leafly

While browsing Leafly, you might be wondering what happened to the widely-cherished Skywalker indica or the heavyweight hybrid Ewok. Unfortunately, they recently went up in smoke in a preventative measure as more cannabis strains come under scrutiny for trademark infringement. But don’t worry—you’ll still find these strains under alternative monikers Alien Walker (Ewok), Mazar x Blueberry (Skywalker), and Mazar x Blueberry OG (Skywalker OG).

Last year, GG Strains—breeder of the famous GG4 strain—came under fire with a lawsuit issued by the Gorilla Glue adhesive company, who ordered the cannabis producer to rebrand its top crop. GG Strains has since settled and renamed its prized cuts GG4, GG1, and GG5.

Related

Can You Trademark a Cannabis Brand? ‘Stash’ Case Offers Two Answers

When it comes to cannabis, it becomes particularly easy to ruffle the feathers of trademark stakeholders.

“Traditionally, trademark has only been enforceable for certain classes of goods or services for which you filed the mark,” explains Leafly’s corporate counsel, Deserae Weitmann. “However, there are exceptions. One exception is tarnishing of a famous mark, wherein brands can argue that association of a well-known mark or famous mark with certain goods and/or services, which the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) refers to an ‘unsavory association,’ causes dilution of their trademark.”

But wait, there’s more.

“Brands that hold famous marks related to entertainment that would be enjoyed by minors, candy, or other goods that would be consumed by minors, or other similar goods or services that are marketed to minors, are especially sensitive to association with the cannabis industry,” Weitmann adds.

Related

Goodbye, Grape Ape: Oregon Bans Kid-Friendly Strain Names

Trademarks associated with Girl Scouts of America and the German liqueur Jägermeister have also prompted changes to cannabis pages formerly occupied by popular strains once known as Girl Scout Cookies (now GSC) and Jägermeister (now JGR).

Cannabis has long operated in the underground, where no rules or trademarks could be enforced. In fact, piggybacking off popular culture became common practice among dealers scribbling names onto Ziploc bags.

As such, you’ll find a long list of strain names that are now questionable in the light of legalization, regulation, and licensed entities. Keep this in mind the next time you’re having difficulty finding a strain that most definitely steps on some corporate toes when it comes to branding.

Bailey Rahn's Bio Image

Bailey Rahn

Bailey is a senior content manager at Leafly, specializing in strains and health. She's spent 7+ years researching cannabis products, spreading patients’ stories, and exploring healthy ways of integrating cannabis into daily life.

View Bailey Rahn's articles

  • Legalize420

    I say keep using the names. These dbags can’t do squat but complain. Let em. You can’t trademark a plant so people can call it whyat they want. F em.

    And I like leafly but if u people don’t stop killing every friggin post I make there will be issues. I support u but I’m taking this personally if you don’t stop this horseshit of blocking my freedom of opinion/speech on everything regardless what it is I’m taking it personally. I love cannabis and ta site for news n shit but if your going to keep every single thing I try to say about things or every opinion or feeling I say I have blocked that’s some BS and opposite of what I thought u stood for. As this is “waiting to be approved by leafly” again I’m ready to denounce u. I’m very opinionated and if u are going to review every single thing I try to say that’s BS but regardless I know your just deleting everything I. Post. So I say this. Email me and work it out or stop it. If I have to somehow make another account or 2 I will but I don’t want to. Peace

    • E.L. Bl/Du

      IMHO, Oregon is making it impossible and very expensive to grow anymore. They have put so many regulations and fees since rec legal. Its oversaturated, too many ppl moved here looking for the “gold rush” trying to grow (never grown anything in their life before) cant get any money out of it. WAY too many fees and regulations. Its ruined forever. Fertilizer and dirt is expensive to do it right.

      • Legalize420

        Haha I’m glad finally they let something I said through. Anyway yes, Oregon is over saturated big time. It’s both a good and bad thing. I love how low prices have fallen in OR. I am from the East Coast so I can honestly from a patient standpoint say you guys have it made. I am in MA and despite us legalizing, it’s a completely different ballgame here than over in the west. At shops prices are $300+ an O and the bud is imo crappy from the few I’ve seen. Very dry and where I’m located the options suck. Even street is still $200+. As a patient, I’m worried about July approaching. My area has 1 overpriced shop in a 40+ min drive radius. And medical dispensaries are opening for rec July 1. It’ll be a shit show especially for patients. I can only hope prices get somewhat reasonable but with all the surrounding states and such coming here, from a supply standpoint, it’ll get hard for people like me.

        Enjoy the $99 ounces and beautiful nug u can get man. MA is going to be a shitshow IMO especially with only 20 or so shops throughout the damn state. Also all the POS towns banning it like their morals are going to mean something in the long run when booze get drunk and get violent and beligerent shops are everywhere. Because of regulations and no competition shit overdry harsh burning nug is what we end up with and idk just heard horror stories about many other places. The only decent shop and 2nd store in my area got shut down. They we’re upping their game. figures eh? I can’t afford to stay medicated so I pray eventually we end up even close to you with pricing and such. What you pay is what it should be everywhere IMO.

        REGARDLESS, many other states are slowly coming around. It’s great to see.

    • Calireefer

      Keep telling yourself that about the first part of your post. In legal states with legal permitted businesses, selling something that infringes on a trademark your don’t own can get you sued into bankruptcy and lose your ability to have a state permit. Sure, black market dealers can call it whatever they feel like, no one is going to sue “Joe from the alley that is selling Gorilla Glue #4 through the hole in the fence”, but it is much easier to sue a legit business to the point of bankruptcy. Noticed how all these trademark issues only started once states legalized it?

  • James Barrett

    This photo is from my dispensary in Juneau Alaska – we don’t carry Gorilla Glue any more.

  • carl

    What are they calling Jedi Kush now?