The Original Equity Group (OEG) Announces USPTO Approval of the EQUITY TRADE Certification Mark and Launch of National Equity Trade Certification Program.
SAN FRANCISCO — The Original Equity Group (OEG), creators of the first federally-recognized social equity certification program for cannabis products and other goods, announces the official registration of the EQUITY TRADE certification mark (U.S. Registration No. 6310040) by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Known for their innovative, community-first approach to social equity, OEG is focused on delivering life-changing solutions to social equity applicants and business owners everywhere. With the recent launch of the Equity Trade Certification (ETC) Program, the company is significantly increasing the visibility of social equity brands by building strategic partnerships with local retailers (“allies”), who will dedicate 20-40% of their shelf space to equity brands. Moreover, the creation of a program where qualified equity businesses can identify their products using an easily-recognizable mark will make it easier for conscious consumers to seek out and buy these products.
Frustrated with the lack of visibility and access being offered to San Francisco Social Equity Applicants by local retailers, OEG strategized as a group to create loose rules (broad standards) for a certification. Led by co-founder Ed Brown, Vice President Nina Parks, and President and Chief Equity Officer Ramon Garcia, OEG began working in 2018 with the city of SF to develop and implement a Social Equity Program (SEP). After the city created the SEP, they began to approve legacy retailers permits to allow them to sell adult-use cannabis products, while equity applicants were still waiting for their applications to be approved. They (The OEG) had heard, from equity businesses like SF Roots, that local retailers were refusing to buy equity products.
This lack of respect for equity-owned businesses infuriated the OEG team and drove them to create the ETC.
OEG sought out the legal support of The Law Offices of Omar Figueroa, who provided (two years worth of) pro-bono hours to help them formalize the certification program and apply for federal intellectual property protection. The EQUITY TRADE certification mark was officially registered on March 30, 2021(U.S.Registration No. 6310040 ):
“The certification mark [confirms] that the goods provided have been produced by a business that meets the standards set by a U.S. state, county, or city social equity program that seeks to address social inequalities and policy concerns related to gender and sexuality, race, age, mental or physical disability, class, ethnicity, language, education, civil rights, socioeconomic status or religion, by requiring that a business’s ownership structure, operations, employment practices or charitable contributions demonstrate a commitment to justice and equality. According to the [application / registration certificate], OEG may allow usage of the EQUITY TRADE certification mark by businesses who meet their certification standards, which relate to social justice and equity.”
According to Lauren Mendelsohn, an attorney at the Law Offices of Omar Figueroa, “the Equity Trade Certification program 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, not only created, but also officially recognized by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This will make it easier for customers to seek out and buy these products.”
After creating the ETC, Original Equity Group has been able to successfully advocate for 10 cannabis equity brands to be on the shelves at various dispensaries across California, as well as a growing number of non-cannabis brands throughout the Bay Area made by equity businesses.
“The Equity Trade Certification solves the issue of visibility for equity products. When you look on the shelves in dispensaries, all you see is a bunch of random brands but there is nothing that differentiates equity products from the rest. The ETC is the first equity-focused certification that works to create visibility [for these businesses and their products] under a standard identifier,” shared Brown.
About The Original Equity Group
Original Equity Group is a social impact company and a social purpose organization founded by San Francisco cannabis activists who came together because they saw a growing lack of resources and support for BIPOC. They are a group of Verified Equity Applicants, Equity Business Partners, consultants, and other technical support specialists that are passionate about creating pathways to resources that support the creation and success of cannabis equity programs, their applicants, and their allies. OEG was formed with the promise to always advocate for Black, Brown, and Indigenous people who meet at the intersection of veteran, criminal justice impacted, LGBTQ+, and those who exist outside of the power majority.
About The Law Offices of Omar Figueroa
The Law Offices of Omar Figueroa is a boutique Northern California law firm focusing on cannabis. Our service areas include permitting and licensing for medical and adult-use cannabis businesses; regulatory and entity compliance; contract drafting, review, and negotiations; intellectual property; representation before governmental entities; policy analysis and drafting; alternative dispute resolution; criminal defense for charges related to cannabis and psychedelics; and more.
(You can learn more about Original Equity Group and hear a conversation with its founders here.)