Hershey is one of the largest candy corporations in the world. Famous for Hershey’s Kisses, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Three Musketeers, Mars, and more, Hershey is big business in candy land. This company is also in the business practice of suing other companies, and the most recent allegations involve Hershey suing two California cannabis companies.
Hershey’s Claims Cannabis Companies Were Infringing on Copyrights
The chocolate giant claims the two companies in question were infringing on copyrights. Harborside, a well-established Oakland dispensary, and Good Girl Cannabis Co., an edibles company in rural northeast California were both targeted.
Hershey sent cease and desist letters to each company with claims that they were making or selling products that were too similar in appearance to their own.
According to Kimberly Scott, owner of Good Girl Cannabis, her situation with Hershey was wrapped up quickly and amicably.
Harborside however, decided to fight it. Its been claimed that Hershey’s demanded Harborside pay $20,000 for “liquidated damages.” Hershey also demanded a confidentiality agreement. Harborside refused, and the case was finally dismissed.
One of the main reasons for the lawsuit against Harborside is that the dispensary sold products made by a company called Jolly Meds. Rather than go after the company that made the CBD candies that resembled Jolly Ranchers, Hershey’s went after a dispensary that was merely selling them. This is what led Harborside to determine that Hershey’s was trying to intimidate them.
Harborside Executive Director Steve DeAngelo wasn’t buying into Hershey’s scare tactics. “We stood up to the federal Department of Justice when they tried to shut us down,” said DeAngelo. “We are certainly not going to be intimidated by a candy company.”
Not the First Time Hershey’s Has Tried Suing Cannabis Companies
This isn’t the first time Hershey has gone after cannabis companies. Colorado cannabis company Tincture Belle was sued by Hershey’s in 2014. Cannabis edibles with names like Hasheath, Ganja Joy, and Dabby Patty were too similar to Heath, Almond Joy, and York Peppermint Patties.
Hershey’s also sued Conscious Care Cooperative, a Seattle dispensary the same year regarding edibles that were an obvious imitation of Hershey’s candy.
Hershey’s won in both cases, with both companies settling rather than taking the issue to court.
Are Hershey Attorneys Bullying Companies in the Cannabis Industry?
The latest attempt by Hershey’s to sue cannabis companies has raised several questions. Many see Hershey’s efforts as a way to milk cannabis companies for what they can get. Their practices have been described as “predatory”, with many in the industry speculating they’re trying to get money where they can.
Henry Wykowski is Harborside’s longtime attorney. He believes that Harborside taking a stance against Hershey’s will give a heads-up that some Hershey’s attorneys are trying to take payments from companies by threatening expensive lawsuits, then demanding confidential settlements.
While any further lawsuits made by Hershey’s will need to be examined on a case by case basis, this serves as a wake-up call for businesses branding products in the emerging legal cannabis industry.