The Mission of MJ Patents Weekly
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CROWDSOURCING THE CONVERSATION ABOUT CANNABIS PATENTS AND PATENTABILITY

Each week, new Cannabis-related patents are granted, and new patent applications are published. Veterans of the industry say that some things that were well known for many years in the Cannabis community seem to be showing up now in newly published patents or applications.  The industry doesn’t have a long history of tens of thousands of academic publications and patents, like other sectors, and so when people apply for patents, the patent office really can’t know what is new and what is not.

The patent system is well-established and isn’t going away.  Patents have their proper place in any strong industry. They protect genuinely new innovations, and promote investment in further R&D. But patents were never intended to take things OUT of the public domain that were already IN the public domain. When that does happen, it is a mistake that results in an invalid patent.  This mistake is corrected, if at all, in an expensive post-grant proceeding or during patent infringement litigation.

Invalid patents put a strain on the Patent Office and on the courts. Much more importantly, they discourage legitimate commercial activity and industry growth, and are especially burdensome to the smaller or newer entrants into the industry—precisely those who may be most likely to contribute real innovation.

But if it becomes clear through public discussion that certain patents are claiming things that are already in the public domain, then perhaps the public forum itself will serve to discourage patent over-reaching.  Perhaps discussion within the Cannabis community itself can become a form of crowdsourced post-grant or post-publication review of patent claims, in order to protect the public domain and draw clearer lines between what is truly inventive and what is not.  That is a key purpose of the MJPatentsWeekly.

So please, join the discussion, add what you know about the Cannabis “prior art,” for the benefit of everyone.  Browse the database of patents and published applications, or search for patents you know about, and make a comment about something that you know isn’t right.  If you know about some prior commercial activity that would be “public domain” and might be relevant to whether a patent or application is really new, say something.  This is your forum.

We are eager to improve this forum and make it more useful to the Cannabis community.  Suggestions are welcome—see the dropdown menu.

MJPatentsWeekly

— Supports the Cannabis community’s unencumbered use of traditional strains and products.
— Advocates for greater clarity about what is truly patentable by promoting a dialogue within the Cannabis community.
— Respects and welcomes real innovation in Cannabis strains and products, and respects valid patent rights covering innovations that provide genuine advances in the industry.
— Opposes patent over-reaching and the granting of invalid patents, and is working to prevent this strain on the Cannabis industry.

Any participation in this forum requires registration, although the registration process respects your privacy.  And there are some basic standards of respectful dialogue, etc.  In addition, when you sign up and when you comment, you will be acknowledging that you understand you’re not entering into any attorney-client relationship, receiving legal advice, or sharing confidential information.

Now join in.  Make a difference.  Thing are happening fast, with or without your contribution, but they will be better WITH your contribution.

Dale C. Hunt, PhD, JD
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Dr Dale Hunt is a plant scientist and patent attorney who has worked his entire legal career helping plant breeders, ag companies, biotech companies, and universities protect their plant varieties and other inventions. He has also devoted a significant part of his practice to helping his clients understand and avoid infringing the patents of their competitors. 

Avoiding the significant legal risk and expense of patent infringement is a vital part of staying in business, and it can involve a combination of designing non-infringing products and methods, obtaining licenses, and in some cases obtaining opinions of counsel that certain patent claims are invalid.

The common thread in all of Dale’s work is that he loves using his science background and his legal experience to help his clients achieve commercial success and avoid the pitfalls that can derail a small company or a good idea. He has worked with many early-stage companies and universities, and has helped three companies take their original idea from a single patent application all the way to an IPO.

Dale has degrees in Botany (BS), Plant Genetics (MS), Molecular & Cellular Biology (PhD), and Law – IP emphasis (JD). He counts both Berkeley Law and UC San Diego Biology as his alma maters. He is the founder of Plant & Planet Law Firm (PlantAndPlanet.com). Dale also maintains a blog at PlantLaw.com