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Wednesday, October 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sirens & Gavels

Ephrata pot shop fights trademark lawsuit

An embattled Ephrata pot shop has fired a lofty salvo in response to a trademark infringement lawsuit filed against it by the marijuana media juggernaut that publishes "High Times" magazine.

In its response to a lawsuit filed last month in U.S. District Court for Eastern Washington, Richard Reimers and his business - previously known as "High Time Station" because of its location near train tracks in the small Grant County town - ask the federal courts to cancel publisher Trans-High Corp.'s trademarks on the phrase "High Times."

Reimers cites the court's authority under 15 United States Code Section 1119, which grants federal courts the authority to reverse or modify trademark registrations authorized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Reimers' attorney, John R. Zeimantz of Spokane, says the company is not using the mark to actually sell marijuana, and now that the practice is legal for recreational sales in two states (and potentially more) and medicinally in many more, the trademark should be cancelled.

"Since Plaintiff is not making a lawful use of the mark in commerce, the mark is not entitled to Federal registration and the existing Federal registration should be cancelled by this Court," Zeimantz wrote in the response, filed earlier this month.

High Times has been published monthly since 1974, when it debuted as a satirical one-off publication of Playboy magazine. The company has rigorously defended its trademark rights of the High Times name in Washington and elsewhere.

The company has filed multiple registered trademarks with the Patent Office, including the publication's logo that has been active since 1994.

But a victory by Reimers would not be without precedent. The national sandwich chain Firehouse Subs sued a Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, bar and grill asking them to cease and desist using the word "firehouse" in their name. A jury found in favor of the small business and, as a result of the settlement agreement, the national franchise agreed to allow its "Firehouse" registered trademarks to expire. The courts will also be asked to review the Patent Office's decision not to renew certain trademarks owned by the Washington Redskins franchise because of concerns the team name is insensitive to native populations.

The next court hearing in the Ephrata pot shop case is scheduled in Spokane next month. Reimers said by email last month he'd had trouble keeping his shop open due to supply issues in rural Washington.

 




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