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Judge Rules Woodstock Can License Name for Cannabis Brand

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U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe ruled on July 29 that the original festival organizers behind the Woodstock Music & Arts Fair in 1969 can use the “Woodstock” name to market a cannabis brand.

A separate company, Woodstock Roots, recently filed a claim to prevent the festival’s founders from using the same name. The 1969 Woodstock festival’s founders—Artie Kornfeld, Joel Rosenman, John Roberts and Michael Lang—have been fighting the claim for over a year. The four have used the name “Woodstock Ventures” for nearly 50 years. In February 2018, Woodstock Ventures filed a trademark infringement suit against Woodstock Roots. But Woodstock Roots turned around and filed a countersuit against the festival founders.

Woodstock Roots uses the catchphrase “Since 1969” despite the company being formed in 2013, so there is no question about the similarities to the original festival. Some also find it ironic that the company’s original founders ran into legal trouble using the name. Woodstock Ventures had plans to create a partnership with cannabis chain MedMen. A federal judge on Aug. 28, 2018 issued a temporary restraining order blocking Woodstock Ventures from completing its licensing deal with MedMen until a preliminary injunction in the case was settled. 

Woodstock 50, which would celebrate 50 years since the original festival, is currently in jeopardy over a series of setbacks. The city of Vernon, New York, for instance, rejected a proposal to hold the concert at a race track in town. In a July 10 letter, lawyers from Woodstock Roots slammed the festival, arguing that “tickets for the concert tentatively scheduled for mid-August have not even gone on sale.”

Organizers are trying to set up Woodstock 50 in time for its 50th anniversary on Aug. 16-18 this year. Jay-Z, Dead & Co. and John Fogerty have dropped out of the festival. According to Rolling Stone, if the concert continues, it will be a free concert due to ongoing problems.

Woodstock’s 1969 festival drew in 400,000-500,000 attendees and redefined rock festivals in general. The original festival’s lineup included Creedence Clearwater Revival, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Santana, Blood Sweat and Tears, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, Ravi Shankar, Sly & the Family Stone and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Unfortunately, Woodstock 50 will probably not have the same cultural effect.

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