In our ongoing coverage of trademark litigation in the cannabis space, we now have a lawsuit filed by National Grange against the Oregon-based Hemp Grange.
The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry (or the National Grange) is the nation’s oldest agricultural fraternal organization. The National Grange is a “family, community organization with its roots in agriculture,” and was founded in 1867. The National Grange also owns a number of active U.S. federal trademark registrations, including registrations for GRANGE covering the following range of goods and services:
- Dress shirts, Hats, Jackets, Short-sleeved or long-sleeved t-shirts, Sweat shirts and Ties, all sold or distributed in connection with a national fraternal organization, and specifically excluding footwear;
- Jewelry; Ornamental pins;
- Farmers’ markets;
- Catering services; providing community centers for social gatherings and meetings, at which meals are served; providing social meeting, banquet and social function facilities; provision of fair and exhibition facilities;
- Restaurant services;
- Credit cards, posters, and publications; namely, newsletters, brochures, and pamphlets about family life in farm, rural and suburban communities, national legislative affairs; and
- Association and charitable services; namely, advancing the quality of family life in farm, rural and suburban communities.
The scope of trademark protection granted to the National Grange for the GRANGE mark is quite broad, which leads us to their latest dispute. National Grange filed a lawsuit for trademark infringement against Hemp Grange last month, arguing that Hemp Grange, which is a hemp and CBD marketing and retail business in Oregon, is unfairly benefiting from the National Grange’s reputation and is harming National Grange’s reputation by suggesting a connection between the two businesses. According to the complaint:
“Defendants’ use of the name and mark ‘The Hemp Grange’ with goods and services related to those offered by the Grange is therefore likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception as to the affiliation, connection, or association of the ‘The Hemp Grange’ with the Grange, or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of Defendants’ goods and services by the Grange.”
The complaint was filed in Medford, Oregon, and seeks to enjoin Hemp Grange from using the word “Grange” in its name, and demands that Hemp Grange destroy its business cards and advertisements and cancel its domain registration for thehempgrange.com. According to lawyers for the National Grange, they sought to reach a settlement with Hemp Grange earlier this year, but were “invited” by the proprietors to bring a lawsuit.
Unfortunately, Hemp Grange’s position may not be as strong as they thought, and inviting a lawsuit may not have been the best strategy to pursue–especially given the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on damages in these cases–but only time will tell. The question here will be whether the goods and services provided by defendant Hemp Grange are confusingly similar to the goods and services provided and protected by trademark by the National Grange. The agricultural nature of the goods could certainly support an argument for likelihood of confusion.
The National Grange is no stranger to litigation, having successfully asserted its federal trademark rights against the California Guild (formerly the California State Grange) in the Eastern District of California several years ago. This new lawsuit should be interesting. We wouldn’t be surprised if it settles, given the clout of the National Grange, but we’ll be following along closely to find out.
For background on some of the other notable trademark disputes brought upon cannabis companies, see below: