Girl Scouts USA wrote a cease and desist letter to an Oakland dispensary to stop using the name ‘Girl Scout Cookies’ for any products, as the nonprofit has exclusive rights to the name under trademark law.
The California dispensary took their product off the shelves immediately, and are urging others to follow suit.
She explained that it’s a cut and dry trademark issue. “We knew it was coming,” she admits.
For now, they renamed what they could, returned what they couldn’t, and pulled the rest from the shelves within an hour’s time from when they first read the notice. Goldsberry not only removed the product with the ‘Girl Scout Cookies’ namesake, but also wrote memos to their suppliers outlining why they will no longer accept products with that name.
When asked why they didn’t stop using the name sooner, she admitted they should’ve, and there was no solid excuse not to have been more proactive with the rename.
Goldsberry only recalls one other time that a California dispensary got such a letter. It was about a year ago, “everyone else may be quiet about it, but we are an advocacy organization and we are trying to spread the word,” she said.
Currently, they are using social media to get the word out to fellow cannabis businesses. Magnolia will also use presentations and public speaking engagements to raise awareness.
“A lot of people think you can treat it like a parody,” said Goldberry, “but it’s not funny – it’s a violation of a trademark.”
She said she was always uncomfortable with the name, so are others. That’s why you’ll sometimes see the name changed to ‘GSC’ or ‘Platinum Cookies’. Her goal is to keep cannabis away from children, unless it’s for medical purposes and under a doctor’s care.
“We didn’t really know if it would be a problem or not, now we know for sure.”
Cannabis companies can avoid any legal issues by renaming their ‘Girl Scout Cookies’ products. They can also be proactive, and stop using the name ‘Gorilla Glue’ for another popular strain.
Better business practices
In hindsight, the people who made the genetics and all the branding that went into it are cut at the knees. As she sees is, all the marketing was wasted. The industry needs better naming practices.
“I felt like this was always coming,” she said. In California, the market is so gigantic that it’s hard to herd everyone together for self-regulation. Instead, regional groups, like in the Bay Area, are seeing more success.
“We come from the grow room, not business college,” she said. “There’s a learning curve to business practices and we are becoming more sophisticated lately, but it’s something people should’ve known, there’s no excuse.”
Her next project is opening a medical dispensary in Berkeley with Amoeba music. They will not be infringing on the Girls Scout’s trademark.
“People should start right, and avoid mistakes that they know can happen,” said Goldsberry.