Buds R Us dispensary in Detroit got a letter from Toys “R” Us alerting them to the fact that the toy company is not happy that their names are so similar. In fact, they’re so unhappy that they’re resorting to the traditional corporate modus operandi: threatening to sue for intellectual property infringement.
The owner, whose name is Frankie, thought it was a joke when he received an official letter from the Blank Rome law firm, with his dispensary logo Geoffrey the Giraffe, a beloved Toys “R” Us icon, smoking a fat joint right on the document.
“I thought it was a joke to tell you the truth, like really Toys R Us coming at us, we’re just a small business out here,” said Frankie. “We just thought it would be funny to have a giraffe with a joint smoking.”
This is not the first time a corporation has gone after a cannabis company for similar branding infringement.
While it is true that no one is going to confuse the two companies, said Paul Tylenda, an attorney for Buds R Us, the dispensary is going to have to retire Geoffrey the Giraffe.
“I think that with the tongue and cheek understanding of the logo, I don’t think anybody is going to confuse the two companies,” said Tylenda.
Frankie is also considering a name change.
“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal if we switch up our name, and we got a couple ideas already in the works, so I don’t think it’ll be a problem,” Frankie said.
Any cannabis business using similar branding to a popular non-cannabis company will likely be served a similar letter.
Cannabis businesses are starting to receive equal treatment like other companies, but not in the ways they hoped.
Weed companies still can’t use the banking system, but they obviously have to follow copyright infringement laws.
“In the cannabis industry, there is a culture of being underground and transient; there is no one to say ‘oh man that bar sure looks like a Hershey candy bar’ because the industry was in a gray area that created a legal limbo and products were sold at small gatherings or in stores that were also operating in the gray,” explained Ophelia Chong, Founder and COO of Stock Pot Images.
Isn’t it odd how some things change yet they remain the same?