Have tobacco companies really trademarked names for marijuana?

Back in the 60s and early 70s, there were rumors going around that the major tobacco companies had trademarked the names of different varieties of marijuana, e.g. “Acapulco Gold” and “Panama Red.” This was supposed to be proof that marijuana was going to be legalized very soon. Does anybody out there know if there was ever any truth to this?

Don’t know, but it makes sense…if you accept evrything they say is true, about pot being bad for you, AND accept the fact that you can say the exact same things about alchohol and tobacco, themselves perfectly legal, then just legalize pot. The sellers would profit, the Government can take it’s share in taxes, and more resources would be distributed towards the real bad stuff, like heroin and crack.

Is it legal to trademark a name for an illegal product? Could I trademark “Big Der’s Heroin Hunks: For when opium just isn’t enough” in this country?

If they actually trademarked those names, it’s unlikely they’ve kept them. And they wouldn’t be very good trademarks for MJ anyway.

There’s a use-it-or-lose-it rule about trademarks. If a trademark has not been used for (I think) 5 years, it becomes public domain.

So for the tobacco companies to maintain those trademarks, they would have had to sell something named “Acapulco Gold” every once in a while. It wouldn’t have to be marijuana, though.

The other problem is that those would be horrible trademarks, at least for marijuana. They’ve already been used generically to refer to the same kind of stuff. If someone were to use them for some other product, say a dessert topping or a floor wax (or both), then they would be on firmer ground.

Heroin used to be a trademark.

I seem to recall hearing somewhere that they did indeed market chewing gum or something in a very small market with marijuana-type names, just to keep the trademarks.

Sound like a UL, but a search on Snopes didn’t come up with anything.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if the U.S. Patent & Trademark Service had a searchable online database?

Also, as dtilque said, " . . . trademark rights can last indefinitely if the owner continues to use the mark to identify its goods or services. The term of a federal
trademark registration is 10 years, with 10-year renewal terms. However, between the fifth and sixth year after the date of initial registration, the registrant must file
an affidavit setting forth certain information to keep the registration alive. If no affidavit is filed, the registration is canceled."

According to my search, “Acapulco Gold” is a live trademarked phrase registered to Charmer Industries Inc. for a brand of tequila. There are also several dead trademarks for “Acapulco Gold” as a brand of dip mix, shirt, fruit juice and suntan lotion.

“Panama Red” has several live trademarks, including canned and fresh vegetables, sauces and spices, clothing and accessories, and various canvas goods. There are also dead trademarks for a restaurant chain and related attire, and, as it happens, for one particular registrant, for “tobacco and cigarettes, clothing, and live plants and flowers.” Could have been for pot, I suppose; the trademark was abandoned July 18, 1990.

Atlantic Cigar Company has a live trademark for the word “Marijuana” used to sell “tobacco accessories.” Two individuals have trademarked “Medicinal Marijuana” to sell “clothing, namely, shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, hats, pants and shorts.” Another individual had a trademark, now dead, for “marijuana” to sell “ALCOHOLIC LIQUORS, NAMELY TEQUILA, COFFEE LIQUEUR AND VODKA.”

“Cocaine” has two live trademarks, for cosmetics and clothing.

It wouldn’t work anyway. When you register a trademark, you have to describe the item you’re going to be selling under that trademark. That prevents people from effectively trademarking a word or phrase for general use; say, for example, the makers of the Three Musketeers candy bar suing someone selling Three Musketeers underwear, or something. (In fact, Mars Inc. has “3 Musketeers” trademarked separately for use in selling both candy bars and ice cream.) Selling chewing gum under the name “Acapulco Gold” would in no way protect the trademark for “Acapulco Gold” registered to sell marijuana.

Opium has been a top selling parfum(cheap stuff) in the UK for several years now.

Re: the “chewing gum” thing:

I think this is a UL, but I believe the original target was “Coca-Cola chewing gum”. I forget the reasoning behind the UL, but the story went that the Coca-Cola company produced exactly one box of gum each year, and had a deliveryman put it in one store. He leaves the store, a Coca-Cola employee immediately walks in, purchases the box of gum, and leaves. This was all done to protect a trademark that required the product to be produced and sold each year.

occ, I think that may in fact be the UL I was thinking of, thanks.

dtilque:
It was a cough remedy from Bayer back in the good old days. That little fact momentarily slipped my mind.

It’s come up in a previous thread. In fact, I should have acknowledged Selmer for that link to the Heroin ad.

From what I understand, really well known trademarks are considered to transcend their category. That is, they apply to all kinds of products, not just the ones they are registered for. If that is true, then Coca-Cola would not have to play games like that with a pack of gum to protect their trademark.

Here’s the Snopes page about the Coca-Cola gum UL.