Patent Battles Could Shape Marijuana Industry’s Future

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The patenting of new marijuana strains could touch off major legal battles over cannabis varieties produced through innovative breeding methods.

“The prize could be nothing less than the commanding heights of an industry that’s projected to soon top $40 billion, with the exclusive rights to produce, sell, or license designer varieties of pot,” Vice News reported. “Over the next few years, the contest could take the form of a gold rush for patents.”

The U.S.-based online news outlet said cannabis industry officials are growing increasingly worried over the need to hire attorneys to shield their new strains from imitators and patent trolls – as well as from agricultural, tobacco and pharmaceutical corporations angling to get a toehold in the rapidly expanding marijuana business.

“If the laws change and the big companies move in, I think we’ll have a period of turmoil around ownership, patenting, the whole business,” Erich Veitenheimer, a patent lawyer and partner at Cooley LLP in Washington DC, told Vice News.

According to the article, the U.S. government issued its first patent for a cannabis plant in 2015, for a strain containing a potent amount of THC. A group of California breeders received Patent No. 9095554 for their creation.