From the cannabis strain known as ‘Girl Scout Cookies’ to an entire cannabis company’s branding scheme, there aren’t many things more widespread in cannabis culture than silly parody names that all too often riff off of someone else’s trademark. When marijuana was universally illegal, there wasn’t much that a legitimate company could do to protect its brand identity, but now with legalization in many U.S. states, brands are going after cannabis companies for trademark infringement over those silly parody names, logos, and advertisements.
Last year Hershey sued a few cannabis companies to keep its venerable brand away from pot shops that like to name their cannabis after candy. Last year Toys R Us got Detroit cannabis brand Buds R Us to change its name, ironically just before the venerable toy store brand went out of business itself. And the latest major American brand to assert its identity is the venerable international shipping business UPS, also known as the United Parcel Service.
UPS has sued three medical marijuana delivery services, United Pot Smokers, UPS420, and THCPlant, for misleading advertising and appropriating brand identifiers that copy the United Parcel Service’s trademarks, reports High Times.
Filing their complaint in the Los Angeles District Court on February 13th, UPS alleged that the United Pot Smokers brand promoted itself with a logo that copied the signature UPS shield, and of course its name and the famous ‘UPS’ acronym. The report also cites the websites www.ups420.com and www.upsgreen.com, which used language that UPS says could have confused them with the international shipping brand. Apparently, the United Pot Smokers site claimed to be a “nationwide logistics expeditor” and “operational courier”.
What’s worse is these parody cannabis delivery services don’t even appear to have been very good companies to begin with. In the complaint filed at the district court, UPS claimed that United Pot Smokers “have acquired a reputation for unlawful and unprofessional conduct, including offering sham services”. Apparently, user reviews of the companies weren’t particularly positive, with some claiming they were “ripping off” medical cannabis patients. They also disregarded multiple cease-and-desist letters from UPS’s legal team, says UPS, and “intended to capitalize off UPS’s extensive goodwill and reputation”.
A judge refused UPS’s request for a temporary restraining order, reports Marijuana Business Daily, until hearing the other side’s defense at a March 7 hearing. However, all of the copycat websites in question now appear to be defunct.