As we’ve explored ad nauseum, CBD coffee is literally everywhere, amid widespread claims that CBD takes the jittery edge off cold brews and double-shot lattes to the relief of overworked but anxious Millennials nationwide. One coffee shop in Maine, though, has not reaped the rewards of the trend, and thinks we should maybe not even call it “CBD coffee” at all. As Bloomberg reported late last week, to Mary Allen Lindemann and Alan Spear, “CBD” means something other than cannabidiol: It’s the trademark of their Portland-based coffee shop Coffee By Design, which has been around since 1994.
In 2010, they trademarked “CBD” for both coffee and coffee shops, then rebranded all their logos from Coffee by Design to CBD in 2017, reported the Portland Press Herald. Around that time, Maine legalized weed, and cannabidiol—also known as “CBD”—became coffee’s coolest addition since almond milk. As Lindemann and Spear told Bloomberg, the growth of CBD, the additive, is causing confusion for fans of CBD (both the substance and the shop), and now they’re considering their legal options.
Customers reportedly thought CBD drinks from other coffee shops were Coffee By Design, but with higher prices. Then, they started wanting CBD to serve, you know, CBD. These days, if you Google the words “CBD” and “coffee,” Coffee By Design doesn’t even come up until the fourth page of search results, at which point your eyes have probably glazed over from all the articles of its purported health benefits. Basically, you’re probably pretty unlikely to think of CBD in terms of the 25-year-old Maine coffee shop unless you’ve been going there for a while.
Because of all that, Lindemann and Spear see CBD oil-dosed cold brews—sold as “CBD cold brew,” for example—as a trademark violation. They think that their trademark should prevent other coffee shops and coffee products from using the phrase, especially in New England, and they’re talking it all over with their lawyer. (MUNCHIES has reached out to Coffee By Design for comment; we have not yet received a response.)
For unrelated reasons, at the start of the month, the Maine Department of Health ordered stores to stop selling food containing CBD. If that hadn’t happened, CBD’s owners were ready to start calling coffee shops, according to multiple reports. To them, “cannabidiol coffee” is fine, and even “CBD extract coffee” is OK, though coffee shops might find those don’t roll off the tongue as easily. If CBD stuff ends up on the market again, though, the trademark concerns will continue.
There is one way that this could all work out in an extremely chill way. Alas, CBD’s owners reportedly told Bloomberg that they aren’t looking to take advantage of the cannabis market right now.