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Press Release: Law Offices of Omar Figueroa Successfully Assists In Registering “Equity Trade” Certification Mark

Here’s their release in full

By Lauren Mendelsohn, Esq.

March 31, 2021

The Law Offices of Omar Figueroa is honored to announce success in obtaining federal registration from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for the “EQUITY TRADE” certification mark (U.S. Registration No. 6310040), which is used to designate products that are made by businesses whose ownership structure, operations, employment practices or charitable contributions demonstrate a commitment to equity and social justice. The application was initially filed by our office on November 6, 2019 and the registration certificate was finally issued on March 30, 2021.

The certification mark, created and owned by Original Equity Group (OEG), a social purpose corporation based in the Bay Area that provides services for equity operators, is part of their unique and timely Equity Trade certification program. Through this program, OEG licenses the use of the “EQUITY TRADE” mark to qualifying businesses in accordance with their certification standards. These standards incorporate social equity criteria adopted by state and local jurisdictions that are designed to identify businesses whose ownership structure, operations, employment practices, or charitable contributions demonstrate a commitment to justice and equality and/or a connection to communities most harmed by cannabis prohibition.

Below is the design of the “EQUITY TRADE” certification mark:

The “EQUITY TRADE” certification mark is significant because it is, to the best of our knowledge, the first time a certification mark indicating that a particular product has been produced by an equity business has been created and officially recognized by the USPTO. This will make it easier for consumers to seek out and buy products made by equity businesses, just as consumers currently look for certification marks and other indicators when shopping for organic, GMO-free or sustainably-produced goods. Moreover, because this certification mark is not specifically limited to cannabis goods or items within California but rather encompasses various kinds of consumer goods made by equity businesses anywhere in the United States, the impact will be wide-reaching beyond one particular industry or geographic location.

Original Equity Group created the Equity Trade certification mark and certification program to “provide product visibility and legitimacy to certified social equity businesses” and to give “consumers a trusted mark for community created products.” They were originally inspired by the numerous verified Equity Operators in San Francisco and Oakland who qualified for this designation but had difficulty actually getting their products on dispensary shelves. OEG felt that this was unacceptable, given how the cannabis industry as we know it now was built on the struggles and efforts of people from marginalized communities.

According to OEG:

“Social equity owners have likely been around the cannabis plant since they were young and have suffered from the policies of the [War on Drugs] and for them, a social equity business [and certification] is about reclaiming their status and customers within the cannabis marketplace — customers from a cannabis market that they largely created.”

“[W]e began to come up with ideas of how we could create more visibility, and a unifying mark on their product made sense. Once an equity operator put the mark on his cannabis jars and was able to leverage shelf space from retailers, we knew we had to keep going. From that example, we knew if we could make the mark federally recognized that this example could be duplicated by many other equity operators throughout California and other legal cannabis states.”

“This is a great day for social justice advocates and an ever better day for Equity Operators who now have increased visibility and legitimacy for their products. We hope that consumers will embrace the importance of social justice and use their dollar to support community products created by Equity Trade Operators.”

For more information about the Equity Trade certification program, please contact Edward Brown at hello@equitytrade.org.

The Law Offices of Omar Figueroa is committed to furthering equity in the cannabis industry as well as in society overall, and we are honored to assist Original Equity Group with this important pro bono effort.  Special thanks go to Senior Associate Lauren Mendelsohn and Of Counsel attorney Tiffany Carrari, who led our team in achieving this unprecedented victory!

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