POTTAWATOMIE CO., Okla. – As the medical marijuana industry keeps booming in Oklahoma, dispensaries are popping up right and left.
And in some pockets of our state, your name means everything.
A battle over a dispensary name in Pottawatomie County is now spilling into court.
One dispensary is called Oklahoma Roots.
The other one is called OK Roots.
Oklahoma Roots is suing for trademark infringement, saying the similarities are creating confusion in the market, and now the case is headed to trial.
“We followed the correct avenues to protect ourselves legally,” Oklahoma Roots President, Chance Gilbert, said.
Gilbert would rather be inside the Oklahoma Roots dispensary selling his products than be in court, but he says that’s where another dispensary, OK Roots, has forced him.
“We reached out without any kind of legal entity being involved and said, ‘hey guys, do you mind, being in the same town, causing this confusion, changing your name to something?’ They said no, of course,” Gilbert said.
A cease and desists letter didn’t work either, so they filed this trademark infringement lawsuit against OK Roots.
“It’s something we’ve invested a lot of time and money in. Obviously we have taken the legal avenues to protect ourselves, so the fact that people might want to use our likeness and use that against patients is very frustrating for us,” Gilbert said.
In Oklahoma, trademark law hinges on who registered and started using the trademark first.
“We officially opened on October 25, 2018. We filed for our business name in February 2018,” Gilbert said.
Oklahoma Roots got its trademark at the end of last year, too.
Then OK Roots opened up shop in December.
On Thursday, OK Roots let us inside and showed us their products, but backed out of an interview, saying they were advised by their attorney to not talk about the case.
Gilbert is hoping this gets resolved soon because he says they’re losing money every day – while patients are led to believe these two stores are one in the same.
“Word of mouth is a very big advertising tool in the industry. It’s very conceivable how somebody could take Oklahoma roots and OK Roots and be hard to distinguish,” Gilbert said.
The attorney for OK Roots never returned New 4’s phone calls.
The jury trial is set for May.