Recent Patent Filings From Marijuana Stocks May Signal Industry’s Next Steps


If you like your current cannabis vaping pen but wish you could control it with your phone, turn on security settings that might keep the feds off your back, and literally give it a name, then Canopy Growth(GCG) may — or may not — have you covered.

The Canadian marijuana producer has applied for a U.S. patent for a rechargeable, easy-to-use vaping device that would attract “cannabis-naive” users and old pros alike, according to a filing with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Tilray (TLRY), meanwhile, has also applied to patent methods for cannabis processing that purport to kill microbes on the plant without sacrificing quality.

IP Fight Heats Up For Marijuana Stocks

The applications from the two top marijuana stocks offer a look into a quietly escalating battle to secure intellectual property in a U.S. cannabis industry still dealing with federal prohibition.

Patent filings, and the often stilted technical drawings that accompany them, offer no direct window into what’s in a company’s product pipeline. But they can lend insight into who’s tinkering with what. They can also show how a company is trying to play defense against rivals who might try to call dibs on similar items. And they can provide a glimpse into a business’s thinking about industry trends.

Canopy Growth: Vapes For The ‘Cannabis-Naive’

With vaping’s popularity gaining on buds, Canopy Growth is seeking to patent what it calls a “system and method for an improved personal vapourization device,” according to an application published Sept. 20.

A summary of the invention breaks it down as such:

“In some embodiments, the vape device can communicate with a personal computing device and work interactively with an application or ‘app’ operating on the personal computing device to provide additional functions and features that can meet the demands and needs of the most sophisticated connoisseur or medical patient.”

Some forms of the item, the filing states, might also allow users to control — via an app — the vaping material’s temperature. App users, again, in “some embodiments” of the invention, might be able to name the device, lock it and configure it to be child-resistant.

Other security settings, the filing says, “can prevent the use of the vape device in regions or jurisdictions, even by the rightful owner of the vape device, where the consumption of medical marijuana is not authorized or legal.”

“These security settings can be implemented to appease government or law enforcement for unauthorized use of the vape device in the consumption of cannabis products, for medical purposes or otherwise,” the summary continues.

Canopy Growth has filed at least 39 U.S. patent applications, according to a Cowen & Co. research note last month.

A Better Way To Kill Microbes?

Tilray’s application, which was published on Aug. 9, is for “methods and apparatus for low-pressure radiant energy processing of cannabis.”

“The present invention achieves sufficient microbial killing and/or adequate drying without impacting product quality (terpene loss, smell, color, texture, etc.) by appropriate determination and application of pressure(s) and radiant energy (e.g., microwave intensity),” the application says.

The application adds that traditional methods for killing microbes in cannabis include gamma irradiation and electron irradiation. Those techniques can cause damage, discoloration or wipe out natural cannabis compounds in the process, the application says.

Marijuana Stocks Stake Early Claims

Neither Tilray nor Canopy responded to questions emailed on Friday afternoon.

How the patent grab will pan out for an industry that still operates on cash isn’t clear. A company known as the Biotech Institute, as a GQ article noted last year, has patents on the “breeding, production, processing and use of specialty cannabis.” U.S. cannabis retailer MedMen has patents on the tables and display cases in its stores.

Marketwatch reported last month that Canopy withdrew a trademark for the phrase “Chronic By Dre,” a nod to rapper Dr. Dre’s 1992 album “The Chronic.” Canopy apologized and said someone at the company filed the trademark erroneously, according to MarketWatch.

Marijuana Stocks Sell Off

Canopy Growth tumbled 14.55% on the stock market today, and Tilray sank 16%. Among other marijuana stocks, Cronos Group (CRON) dropped 12.6%, and Aurora Cannabis (ACB), which listed on the New York Stock Exchange last week, dived 16%.

Last week, another cannabis company, Aphria, received approval to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The company already trades in Canada.

The rally in marijuana stocks follows a deep sell-off in the wake of Canada’s recreational legalization earlier this month.