With some states having legalized various forms of marijuana usage over the past few months, there has been a increase in the number of marijuana-related trademark applications being filed. However, it appears that the USPTO has been routing those applications to a “specialized” group of examiners. Consequently, the amount of time taken before those applications reaches an examiner’s desk has been greater than the advertised 3-4 month timeline.
The World Trademark Review asked Josh Gerben for his reaction as a trademark attorney:
“[…] There should never be a case where an applicant waits a year or more to get an examination on a trademark application. Moreover, many businesses and individuals rely on receiving an examination before even starting a business or launching a product. This type of delay has significant commercial ramifications.
“There has been no notification (of which I am aware) to attorneys or applicants that are working with the USPTO that applications are being pulled into this separate ‘bucket’, to which there is this a one year plus wait for an examination. In other cases where a formal examination will be delayed, the USPTO notifies the applicant. […] In this case it would seem appropriate to notify applicants of a suspension or delay in examination due to the rapidly evolving laws in the marijuana and CBD space (should that be the USPTO’s justification for the delay).”
Source: Little, T. “Speculation mounts over USPTO special cannabis unit as practitioners vent anger over significant examination delays”. WTR.com. April 8 2019.