Pot Club’s Name Dispute with Vets Over ‘Purple Heart’

An Oakland medical pot club, Purple Heart Patient Center, has sued a Virginia wounded veterans group in an effort to thwart a potential trademark claim by the supporters of recipients of the Purple Heart medal.

The federal suit filed last week in Oakland the club names the Military Order of the Purple Heart and its funding raising Service Foundation wing saying it received a letter from lawyers threatening legal action for use of the trademark name “purple Heart.”

The club maintains that its name comes from the purple flowers in a well-known cannabis strain called “Granddaddy Purple,” which is available almost exclusively in California.

For medical pot users who shop at the Patient Center, the phrase “purple heart” has come to mean cannabis with significant medicinal properties grown in the area.

“Accordingly, the Patient Center chose the name ‘Purple Heart Patient Center’ based strictly on these facts, and its selection of its name had nothing to do with the Purple Heart medal,” the suit states.

The Patient Center believes that neither the Military Order nor the Service Foundation promotes use of medical marijuana and “actively and expressly campaign and advocate against medicinal cannabis use as part of their concerted efforts to provide alcohol and drug abuse treatment,” the suit states.

It is unlikely that the marijuana center could be mistaken for the wounded veterans’ group, they argue.

The club seeks a judicial declaration that it does not violate trademark law and that there is no likelihood of confusion.

The suit states the Center receive a second letter Feb. 11 alleging their services overlap with the Military Order and a copy of draft complaint included trademark infringement, cybersquatting and unfair competition claims. But that suit by the Virginia group had not been filed at that time.

The case has been assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge Harold R. Lloyd.

Case: Purple Heart Patient Center v. Military Order of the Purple Heart, No. C13-902HRL



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