Cannabis Piracy - Copycat Cannabis Brands and What Can You Do About It?
I recently read a Forbes Article that spoke about “Cannabis Piracy” which prompted me to write this article. In essence, there are many brands within the cannabis space that are running into copycats. People who take their products, rebrand them and sell them as their own.
Considering that the cannabis market is still fairly immature, the fact that ‘bad players’ will try to take advantage of other people’s work…is very prominent.
“Piracy” is a bigger issue than just copying music or videos. Products and even things like CBD are being “pirated” in one way or another.
Here’s the thing about Piracy though, “Most of us are Okay with it”.
70%+ of People Online have No Problem with Online Piracy
The vast majority of the people reading this sentence have committed online piracy – and we’re totally fine with it.
Whenever a new series hits the market, or a band drops a new album…in all likeliness we find it online and stream it. While we continue to pay for services like Netflix or Amazon Prime, if something isn’t available on these platforms it takes about five-minutes to track down a stream-able alternative.
We do this without thinking of the implications that it might hold.
For instance, more than 70,000 jobs are lost every year directly because of online piracy. The annual worth of online piracy is somewhere in the $15 billion to $30 billion dollars each year. We could go on about the stats, but the fact of the matter is that “streaming that movie” actually has a lot more implications than just entertaining yourself.
Why mention this?
Firstly, to indicate our irrational relationship with Piracy. If someone were to blatantly copy our work and profit from it, we’d go into a frenzy. However, when it’s convenient for us to reward those pirates by watching their hi-jacked content, it’s okay.
Secondly, online piracy is but a small fraction of piracy on a global scale. Fucci, Mike, Calvin Stein and all of the other knock-off brands exist, and they make a shit-ton of money.
In many of these cases of knock-off brands, they actually have deals with the manufacturers where the manufactures obtain licenses to sell the “inferior” product. Not in all cases, but those deals do exist.
However, when we’re talking about the gargantuan corporations, their ‘losses vs gains’ allows piracy to continue because, while it does affect their bottom-line, it doesn’t ruin them.
But what about a new company, let’s say within the cannabis space.
Cannabis Piracy is happening
There are many new cannabis companies coming into the market. They are trying to provide solutions to the consumer market. They invest money in research and development, testing, manufacturing and so much more.
Once the concept is proven to work, they launch it to the market. Only to find that a few months down the line, another company is selling almost virtually the same product with slight tweaks.
There have been several incidents of this already happening. For instance, the “Twisty Blunt” now has several alternatives on the market. You just have to look for it and you can buy it at a cheaper price-tag.
From a consumer’s perspective, “cheaper is better in many cases”. If you can get “virtually the same thing” for $10 less…you’d almost always go for the cheaper alternative. There are consumers that find value in the “brand name”, whereas others find value in “saving money”.
The thing cannabis brands need to understand is, “Piracy WILL NOT GO AWAY!” It’s here to stay. It’s only going to get more prominent with the advancement of technology.
WARNING – Patent your Shit!
These days, if you’re going to be breaking into any market, cannabis or not, you need to protect your intellectual property. Get patents on your processes, prototypes and brand. Make sure that you have a legal foot to stand on if you see anyone profiting from your hard work.
You can’t blame the consumer for going for the cheaper option. You can’t control that factor at all. However, you can go after the companies that try to steal your work. You can take the profits they made on your products. That happens when you protect yourself legally from being copied on the market.
While it might be an extra expense, especially during the early stages of a company, it is something that will protect your bottom-line when your product or solution hits the market.
Piracy has not been a major concern for the cannabis industry during prohibition, however, now that it’s stepping into the legal sphere, it’s important to consider these things.
Don’t be a victim of piracy, do what you can to protect yourself from copycats. Get a good lawyer on intellectual property, and keep your ideas and assets safe from unethical-opportunists.