LibertyLink trait going generic, Evel Knievel’s legend lives, and other legal news to ponder from Cape Law Firm

Generic LibertyLink trait coming in 2023

The crop trait known as “LiberytLink,” which provides crops with tolerance to glufosinate herbicides, will join the generic ranks within the next three seasons. Patented herbicide-tolerance traits that gained popularity with farmers in the 1990’s and 2000’s are reaching the end of their patent protection. The last U.S. patent on the LibertyLink herbicide-tolerance trait will expire in September 2023. The first popular trait to go generic was the original Roundup Ready trait for glyphosate tolerance when its last patent expired in 2014. The Roundup Ready expiration created quite a buzz as farmers, breeders, and seed companies eyed the possibility of using the trait for lower-priced “generic” varieties that could be saved for replanting. Although not as prominent in the marketplace, it seems likely the LibertyLink trait will also become available in a generic form when its patent protection expires.

Disney gets jumped by Duke Caboom

Evel Knievel’s estate and K&K Promotions (the company that owns Evel’s branding and IP rights) has sued Disney, alleging a handful of trademark-related claims for the Toy Story 4 character, Duke Caboom. Disney’s character is a 1970’s motorcycle stuntman, which just so happens to be Evel’s claim to fame. In the late 1960’s and ’70’s, Knieval gained notoriety with audacious motorcycle jumps over cars, buses, and other imposing structures. The lawsuit alleges that the Duke Caboom character is based on Evel’s stuntman-likeness and seeks damages from Disney. Trademark protection is available for a personal likeness when it is used commercially to sell or promote goods and services. Trademark cases often have good storylines, and this one is no exception. Evel’s son Kelly recently remarked, “Evel Knievel did not thrill millions, break his bones and spill his blood just so Disney could make a bunch of money.” Indeed!

Cape Law Firm’s Frequently (or Randomly) Asked Questions

“Can I trademark my cannabis products?”

This gets the lawyerly answer of “it depends.” Obtaining federal registration for cannabis products remains a challenge because the Trademark Office will refuse registration for goods and services that are illegal under federal law. Without getting too deep into the weed, this means that hemp (cannabis with less than 0.3% THC) is legal and otherwise qualifies for registration, but marijuana (cannabis with more than 0.3% THC) remains an illegal controlled substance and will be rejected. Just to add a layer of complexity, trademarks can also be registered at the State level. Thus, in several states that have legalized medical and recreational cannabis, the State may register cannabis-related trademarks that would fail with the U.S. Trademark Office.

Although this evolving area, it is worth considering seeking registration for lawful cannabis goods and services at the State and Federal levels since it may provide a path for expanding to “related” goods and services in the future.

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