Two powerhouses in the cannabis industry are set to grapple in court after Canopy Growth Corporation launched a lawsuit against GW Pharmaceuticals, the company that manufactures the cannabidiol (CBD)-based drug Epidiolex®, last December. Canopy alleges that it has exclusive rights to the extraction process used to make the medication.
Larry Sandell, a Washington DC patent attorney, told Forbes that the Canopy patent “broadly covers CO2 extraction, which is the most widely used, and perhaps most important extraction technique.”
Canopy supports its claim with their patent granted in 2020 protecting its right to control a specific style of cannabinoid extraction in the US. The company’s original patent, issued in 2014, was significantly narrower in scope. If the lawsuit is successful, it could have far-reaching consequences for cannabis companies beyond GW.
“It really could be a major threat to the extraction industry…Although there are steps that can be taken to reduce infringement liability risks, CO2 extractors may essentially have this anvil hanging over their head as the business continues on,” said Sandell.
If Canopy wins its suit, it will have a huge advantage over its competitors. Many CBD companies use the protected extraction method. Canopy could potentially decide to defend its patent by filing a flurry of lawsuits after its GW case.
Epidiolex® is currently the only cannabis-based medicine (that is not a synthetic) approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, GW also has developed other cannabinoid therapies currenlty in testing.
And GW is not the only company taking this road. Several other pharmaceutical companies are pursuing clinical trials for their own cannabinoid-based medications that too will file for approval should testing reveal positive results.
In the lawsuit, Canopy stated, “This case is not about restricting patient access to Epidiolex®…Rather, Canopy brings this action to put a stop to GW’s knowing and unauthorized use of Canopy’s intellectual property.”
Unfortunately, reducing patient access could be the result should Canopy win the suit.
“As a policy, we do not comment on any pending litigation except to say that based on our preliminary review of the complaint, we are confident in our position and will vigorously defend against this lawsuit,” a GW spokesman said.
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