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Cannabis companies are often surprised and dismayed when they discover their work copied by a dishonest competitor seeking to make a quick entrance into the market or gain an advantage without doing the work to earn it. The industry is full of start-ups and some companies are trying to short cut their way to success.
Jordan Friedman, chief executive of Zodaka a cannabis payment platform, said that one of his competitors, a cryptocurrency-based cannabis payment solution, recently took “several large swaths of our design and verbiage for use on their own site.” While this sort of plagiarism can be somewhat flattering, he said, it was “very jarring to see something our team had spent countless hours on blatantly cut and pasted onto another company’s site.”
To combat the situation, Friedman took the time to make sure that he had all the crucial details and that his company wasn’t rushing into anything “without considering every possible outcome and nuance.” While legal action can be complicated and expensive, Friedman advises victims of copycatting to record all the evidence, get expert advice, “and stick to your guns if you know you’re right.”
Unfortunately, “making something simple is hard, but it’s very easy to copy something simple,” said David Goldstein, chief executive, Potbotics a company that makes cannabis consumption products including the recently released dose-measuring vaporizer called RYAH. Talented teams that make complex products streamlined for the user or design compelling visual elements, are targets for idea and intellectual property theft in any industry, and the burgeoning marijuana market where almost every business is a start-up, is no exception.
Christopher Brown is chief information officer for Smojo Screens a small reusable device for marijuana pipes that prevents embers and ash from getting into the smokers’ lungs. He advises companies to use trademark and patent protections to stop intellectual property theft. His company researched and trademarked their product name along with the logo, clearing the way to legally defend against copycats from a branding perspective. They also applied for patent protection on their product, including a utility patent to protect against anyone using the same concept. They will also file for a design patent.
The company will do the same in Europe for both trademark and patent protection. “While this will not necessarily prevent all copycats, it will give us the legal tools to keep those copycat products out of legitimate distribution channels,” said Brown.
Sometimes there’s no way to counteract intellectual property and idea theft, Potbotics’ Goldstein, said, so companies need to “continue coming up with new innovative designs to stay ahead of the game.”
“There will always be a group out there looking to copycat something successful,” said Wil Ralston, President of SinglePoint a publicly traded holding company that acquires companies both in and outside of the cannabis industry. Companies need to stay vigilant and do periodic searches for similar products, content and graphics online.
Marijuana businesses also need to attract and retain a large group of loyal customers to succeed in this competitive industry said Derek Riedle, Publisher of Civilized a media and lifestyle brand focused on modern cannabis culture. He believes the “first movers” who have established a strong brand and fostered a community will win in the end.
March 13, 2019 at 02:52PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs