Maybe it's time to drop the sassy parody brands…
Here's a good reason to forgo the parody logos so popular in the cannabis industry; last week UPS became the latest brand to sue its marijuana copycats. The company has filed a lawsuit against United Pot Smokers, UPS420, and THCPlant, a group of medical marijuana delivery businesses, for misleading advertisements and using brand identifiers that encroach on the United Parcel Service's trademarks.
This is far from the first time a cannabis company has been taken to task for a copyright infringement. Last year, Hershey's Chocolate renewed its quest to keep its brand away from candy-crazy pot brands. In 2017, Detroit's Buds R Us dispensary was ordered away from its name by Toys R Us, and Gorilla Glue adhesives reached a non-monetary settlement with Gorilla Glue Strains. That same year, Tapatio Hot Sauce sued a company marketing an infused salsa under the name "Trapatio".
And now the multinational delivery company is taking issue with the fact that the United Pot Smokers brand was promoted with a logo that echoed the original UPS' well-known shield, not to mention the shipping service's distinctive acronym.
The complaint, filed on February 13 in Los Angeles' Central District federal court, also cites the fact that websites www.upsgreen.com and www.ups420.com were operated by the defendants to coordinate mail orders of cannabis product. On them, the companies used language that could possibly have led to confusion between them and the venerable brand.
World Intellectual Property Review reports that among the offending nomenclature on the United Pot Smokers sites were lines saying that it was a "nationwide logistics expeditor" and "operational courier".
Requests for comment by Bloomberg were not immediately responded to by the suit's defendants. The lawsuit's demands include compensation for damages and that control over the websites in question be passed to the original UPS company.
The two URLs cited in the lawsuit now forward users onto a pair of defunct-looking websites—one for an out-of-stock marijuana storage system and the other for marijuana clones and grow equipment. The site www.ups420.com now links to a defunct-seeming page for California marijuana clones, and once offered "business class transportation" for cannabis products within the state.
Worries about the brands' aesthetic similarities were apparently heightened by user reviews about United Pot Smokers "ripping off" medical cannabis patients that were included in the lawsuit's filings.
UPS stated that United Pot Smokers "have acquired a reputation for unlawful and unprofessional conduct, including offering sham services." In addition, it claims the cannabis company disregarded more than one cease-and-desist warning from the UPS legal team and "intended to capitalize off UPS's extensive goodwill and reputation."
Marijuana Business Daily reports that on Feb 15, a judge denied UPS' request for a temporary restraining order, preferring to wait to hear the other side's testimony at a March 7 hearing. The defendants must respond to the UPS allegations by February 28.
This article first appeared in High Times.
Clarice, a Melbourne-based writer, began her career covering the technology industry and now writes, edits and interviews subject matter experts in the Cannabis Industry.