Despite legislative uncertainty (e.g., bills that have been passed, multiple times, but not become law), a wide range of brilliant entrepreneurs, industrial companies, investment mavens, and service providers have been consciously and conscientiously advancing the US cannabis industry's interests.
MJBizCon and CannaVest West are proof positive – the breadth, depth, and sophistication of cannabis-related products, services, and innovations on display was truly staggering.
About the Events
MJBizCon featured thousands of square feet and hundreds of products, services, innovations, and infrastructure relating to the booming US cannabis industry. Entrepreneurs and innovators displayed impressive products relating to growing plant, producing and processing extracts, and a wide variety of consumables from extracted terpenes, to chocolates and gummies, to salves and lotions. Industrial companies displayed scalable lighting solutions, temperature and humidity control technologies, extraction systems, packaging systems, and software and artificial intelligence growing systems, among the vast array of capital equipment involved in scaling up operations in the cannabis industry.
At CannaVest West, private investors, fund managers, and savvy capitalists provided perspectives on fund raising, business strategy, taxation and accounting, among other implications of business in the space. Service providers, including accountants, lawyers, investment bankers and consultants, were able to highlight the sophisticated support services available to the cannabis industry.
An IP Lawyer's Takeaways
As an intellectual property (IP) lawyer, I was pleased to see that at least some of the many assets deployed in the burgeoning industry were being protected by IP protection mechanisms, but there is so much more to be done to bring this industry on par with other advanced industries that rely on IP to protect innovation and provide commercial advantage. Perceived limitations on obtaining patents and trademarks in the cannabis industry is not an excuse.
As with other sophisticated industries in the US, IP implications for the cannabis industry are many. From trademarks, to design patents, to utility patent protection, being conscious of available protection mechanisms is key. And, the need and ability to protect innovations as the cannabis industry continues to advance can/will increasingly add value and provide competitive advantages. As has been the case with virtually all industries, IP protection represents commercial and technological innovation and advances, and will differentiate players in the marketplace. Getting to know and being comfortable with an IP attorney should be on every player's list of things to do.
Notwithstanding the lack of action by Congress, the “invisible hand” (of Adam Smith's economic doctrine) has been and is vigorously at work creating the entrepreneurs and inventors, and guiding sophisticated capitalists and capital, into a robust cannabis industry here in the US. Opportunities and innovation need to be protected in this industry that is growing in leaps and bounds.
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