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Patent office extinguishes reefer category

If you created a new blend of a certain medicinal herb, and you wanted to trademark a name like “Jack and Jackie’s Wacky Tobacky” or “McDuff’s Puff Stuff,” you may have thought you were in luck.

After all, in April the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office quietly created a brand new trademark category: “Processed plant matter for medicinal purposes, namely medical marijuana.” In other words, marijuana growers could get government protection for their herbal product!

That is, until last week. After a Wall Street Journal reporter began asking the patent office about the new trademark category, federal officials said the new designation was about to go up in smoke – per the advice of the office’s lawyers.

“It raises examination issues,” PTO spokesman Peter Pappas told the Journal. “It was a mistake and we have removed it.”

Removing the federal approval of pot products was probably a wise move, considering that selling marijuana – even for medicinal purposes – remains a federal crime, even though some states allow it. Although Attorney General Eric Holder signaled a change in federal policy back in March by announcing the Justice Department will no longer go after producers of medical marijuana, there has been no law change yet.

Pot producers can still file applications for trademarks without the special chronic category. But, patent officials said a pot trademark has never been granted, and the chances of one being granted in the future are bleak. So don’t hold your breath. Well, at least not over this.

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