Hershey’s Revives Battles with Marijuana Businesses

Hershey’s, with revenues of over $7 billion, sent cease-and-desist letters last year to at least two California marijuana companies.

Watch out cannabis companies. Chocolate giant The Hershey Co. is out for blood.

Arguably the largest candy company in the world, Hershey’s has a well-documented history of actively protecting their trademarks. It seems that the marijuana industry has not been able to function outside of the chocolate companies wide gaze.

Hershey’s has been relatively quiet since it sued two cannabis businesses in 2014. However, they began to ramp up their oversight seemingly overnight. Last year, the company sent cease and desist letters to Harborside, a well-established dispensary in Oakland, and Good Girl Cannabis Co, and edibles maker in rural Northeast California.

Cannabis edibles are sometimes made to resemble Hershey’s candy bars.

The cannabis industry is still maturing. That means the industry still has to face complicated legal issues such as trademark laws. These are powerful forces that can push small companies to change course. When Harborside dispensary was issued the cease and desist notice from Hershey’s, they wound up fighting back after months of legal threats.

Lawyers requested Harborside pay 20,000 for “liquidated damages” and sign a settlement agreement with a confidentiality clause.

“Harborside refused confidentiality, and I told Hershey’s that we were prepared to proceed with the litigation,”

said Henry Wykowski, Harborside’s longtime attorney. “And guess what happened? They caved the next day.” Wykowski continued on to say.

The case was voluntarily dismissed Jan. 31, 2018, according to court records — within weeks of Harborside’s initial filing.

Cannabis not only industry under attack

Hershey’s hasn’t focused only on marijuana businesses when either threatening or filing a lawsuit against companies it believes have committed trademark infringements. According to the Cannabist, “In 2009, Hershey’s sued a West Virginia company named Reese’s Nursery and Landscaping for allegedly infringing on its Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups trademark. In 2015, the company sued a New Jersey chocolate importer for alleged trademark violations.”

Wykowski, Harborside’s attorney, believes Hershey’s took its trademark concerns a step further with his client.