As the Canadian cannabis industry continues to expand innovations will flood the market. The patent is a robust piece of intellectual property that can be filed across many different industries, and cannabis is no exception. We asked David Wood, a trusted lawyer at Borden Ladner Gervais in Calgary with clients in the Canada’s ACMPR regime, to tell us a bit about patents and their interaction with the cannabis plant.
So just what can be patented? “Let’s start here,” David told Lift. “Here’s my favourite way of putting it. You’re planting a seed, growing the seed, harvesting the stuff you’ve planted, the outcome of that could be flowers or a vape cartridge and anything in between. Any of those steps can be optimized and patented. Look at something like extraction. The way you do that stuff is full of details. If you come up with some new details that really improve efficiencies, you can get patents on that.”
The main forms of patents are for “methods, devices, and what is called a composition of matter,“ Wood said. “And if you’re patenting a plant, that’s what you would get. It still has to be new, so that gets very tricky with plants.”
Generally if something is a technology that is created and it is new and inventive, you can get a patent on it. “Patents protect technological innovations. People call them inventions. If the patent office considers your development, as it’s been described, to be an invention, to be new, you can get a patent on it.”
What are some parts of the cannabis industry that are ripe for an explosion in patents?
“Something the Lift readership might appreciate is home-growing. That whole industry is going to be made easier and easier by technology. I’ve already met 3 or 4 companies that sell a thing that sits in your house in which a plant grows inside.”
We asked Wood about US patent number 6,630,507, a patent held by a United States government agency that some cannabis activists have claimed is proof the US federal government knows the medicinal benefits of cannabis, and that they hold wide-ranging rights to cannabis as a medicine.