UPS trademark action against cannabis group is a good reminder that branding you think is “funny” will likely cost you

A little over two weeks ago, shipping and logistics giant United Parcel Service brought suit against a cannabis delivery company, United Pot Smokers and some individuals allegedly associated with the service. You can read a copy of the complaint here (link). UPS filed the complaint after multiple attempts to contact the defendants and resolve the matter prior to bringing the lawsuit.

The complaint against the defendants alleges trademark infringement, dilution, false designation of origin, state trademark causes of action – stating that the defendants use “confusingly similar” branding to UPS.

To give you some sense of what this case was about, you really just need to view the two logos:

The websites associated with the defendants are alleged in the complaint as,, – the websites all appear to have been taken down, and no response was filed pursuant to the court’s order on UPS’s temporary restraining order request allowing the defendants time to respond by February 28 – so there’s every likelihood that filing the complaint was the trigger to getting the offending behavior terminated.

That’s not surprising given that the complaint went well beyond alleging infringement and made allegations bolstered by website reviews that the websites were scams, that the operations were unlicensed, and likely, if true, drawing much unwanted attention to a business enterprise that would not want to have such facts brought to the attention of their consumers or regulators.

Let’s be clear, we’ve written before on parody, and this is not parody. Many small companies sometimes use the intellectual property of others in marketing themselves, branding, or even in labeling design. In fact, it’s certainly not new or novel to the burgeoning cannabis industry. In 2014 Hershey’s brought suit against marijuana edible makers using punny names like Ganja Joy, Hash Heath, and Dabby Patty.

The Takeaway: Piggybacking on another company’s intellectual property – even if you’re their biggest fan, carries the potential for claims of infringement, dilution, damages and the gamut of IP remedies. Best not to copy another’s logo, trademark, idea, movie, TV show… you get the picture… without permission. After all, treble damages under the Lanham Act are no joke.

Ashley Brandt

Hi there! I’m happy you’re here. My name is Ashley Brandt and I’m an attorney in Chicago representing clients in the Food and Beverage, Advertising, Media, and Real Estate industries. A while back I kept getting calls and questions from industry professionals and attorneys looking for advice and information on a fun and unique area of law that I’m lucky enough to practice in. These calls represented a serious lack of, and need for, some answers, news, and information on the legal aspects of marketing and media. I've got this deep seeded belief that information should be readily available and that the greatest benefit from the information age is open access to knowledge... so ... this blog seemed like the best way to accomplish that. I enjoy being an attorney and it’s given me some amazing opportunities, wonderful experiences, and an appreciation and love for this work. I live in Chicago and work at an exceptional law firm, Goldstein & McClintock, with some truly brilliant people. Feel free to contact me at any time with any issues, comments, concerns… frankly, after reading this far, I hope you take the time to at least let me know what you think about the blog and how I can make it a better resource.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: