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‘Cannabis’ Drinks Can’t Be Trademarked, Court Says

(CN) - The word "Cannabis" may not be trademarked for beverages containing hemp, a European court ruled. The Court of First Instance upheld a European market office's determination that the mark is descriptive, not distinctive.

A German brewery producing a beer called "Cannabis Club" challenged Italian beverage retailer Giampietro Torresan's 1996 registry of "Cannabis" for a line of hemp-containing alcoholic beverages.

The Luxembourg-based court agreed with the German brewery that this is not a "normal" way of designating alcoholic beverages.

Hemp has three possible meanings, according to the court: a textile plant, a "narcotic which is prohibited by a great number of member states," and a disputed therapeutic substance.

The ruling said that the average consumer buying a "Cannabis" beer will probably do so because "they are convinced that it contains cannabis and are attracted by the possibility of obtaining from the beverage the same ... sensations as they obtain from the consumption of cannabis in another form."

This makes "Cannabis" descriptive of a product's characteristics, which cannot be trademarked, the court concluded.

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