(LATimes) Hi is a cannabis brand. Its logo — “hi” in white letters inside an orange circle — can be found above the front door of a Portland, Ore., marijuana shop and on a handful of cannabis products, including massage oil and Hi Releaf pain-relief balm.
But you wouldn’t guess any of that from Hi’s trademark filings. In 2015, the brand’s parent company, Cannabis Sativa Inc., filed a trademark application — not for any of Hi’s core products, but for hats, T-shirts and a wide array of other apparel.
If the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office signs off on the application, Cannabis Sativa would be able to stop other companies from using the Hi brand on clothing, but it might not be able to stop rivals from setting up Hi-brand marijuana shops or selling knockoff Hi-brand products.
Though cannabis is legal for recreational or medicinal use in 28 states, it remains illegal under federal law. As a result, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will not register trademarks for marijuana retailers or for products that contain cannabis.
One popular strategy for cannabis companies that can’t trademark their core products is to seek protection for a host of ancillary products and services.
Stoner comedian Tommy Chong’s brand, Chong’s Choice, which sells a line of pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes, has applied for a trademark for vaporizers and “tobacco” jars.
Altai, a brand of cannabis chocolates, is seeking trademark protection for its name brand as a provider of information about medical cannabis.
Mary Shapiro, a San Francisco attorney, said the goal is to get something federally trademarked — and the more closely related to marijuana, the better. She is working with Salinas firm Indus Holdings, Altai’s parent company, on its trademark application.
Once a company has even applied to register a trademark, it’s noted in a federal database. When companies set out to submit trademark applications of their own, they search that database to see if their brand name is already in use — and if so, how it’s being used.