Congress recently enacted the Trademark Modernisation Act (TMA) 2020 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021. The TMA amends the Trademark Act 1946 – also known as the 'Lanham Act' – and makes significant changes to trademark law by clarifying the burden for trademark owners seeking injunctive relief and providing new mechanisms for challenging applications and registrations on non-use grounds.
Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota have voted to legalise recreational marijuana use for individuals aged 21 years and older and Mississippi has voted to allow prescribed medical marijuana for people with certain conditions. While the specific regulatory frameworks concerning cannabis in these states have yet to be determined, companies involved in the cannabis industry should begin thinking now about what requirements exist to secure trademark rights for cannabis-related goods and services.
Despite the implementation of several programmes in recent years, the traffic of counterfeit goods remains a problem for Amazon. As such, it recently announced the launch of a new Counterfeit Crimes Unit in an effort to stifle the trade of counterfeit goods on its international marketplace. The unit is a global team that will use Amazon's own internal data, third-party payment service providers and on-the-ground assets to identify bad actors and bring them to justice.
Products involving CBD and hemp seeds have been flooding the US market and businesses are seeking to protect their brands in connection with products in this emerging market, given the legalisation of various forms of marijuana in individual states. Where federal or state registration is not legally obtainable with regard to various goods or services, users may be able to obtain common law rights to cannabis-related trademarks if they are in use.
The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board recently affirmed a United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) decision denying the application of a mark for hemp oil extracts sold as an integral component of dietary and nutritional supplements. In its decision, the USPTO had reasoned that the applicant's goods, which contained cannabidiol, were illegal under federal law – specifically, the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act and the Controlled Substances Act.
A bipartisan group of representatives in the US House of Representatives recently introduced the Stopping Harmful Offers on Platforms by Screening Against Fakes in E-Commerce Act to help stem the growing concern over counterfeit products being offered for sale on online third-party marketplace e-commerce platforms. Although e-commerce is a relatively new retail platform, it has been capturing larger percentages of sales in the US retail industry.