On May 2, 2019 the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a Cannabis Trademark Examination Guide which addresses the examination of trademarks for cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD), and hemp-related products and services. The USPTO was prompted to publish the Examination Guide after the enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill and the significant increase in trademark applications seeking to register trademarks covering cannabis, CBD, and hemp-related products and services.
The USPTO Examination Guide, titled Examination of Marks for Cannabis and Cannabis Related Goods and Services after Enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill, begins by reiterating the general rule that use of a trademark must be lawful under federal law to be the basis for federal registration under the US Trademark Act. In other words, the US Trademark Office refuses to register trademarks for goods and/or services that show a clear violation of federal law, regardless of the legality of the activities under state law. A determination of whether commerce involving cannabis and cannabis-related goods and services, such as CBD and industrial hemp, is lawful requires review of several different federal laws, including: