Tree of Knowledge, a publicly traded company on the Canadian Securities Exchange, announced on August 9th, that they would be launching a line of hemp-derived CBD products for Dr. Sanjay Gupta, which they would call “Dr. Gupta’s” under the Gupta Products umbrella. The line will include hemp infused products like CBD capsules, CBD tinctures and CBD salve.
The problem is, it is not the Dr. Sanjay Gupta you’re thinking of, the famous CNN Chief Medical Correspondent and medical marijuana advocate, who produced “Weed,” the mainstream documentary series.
Instead, the Dr. Sanjay Gupta who licensed his name is the president of the American Pain Association and the director of a show called “Health Time TV.”
“We are extremely excited that Dr. Gupta has selected TOK to work with to create a new product line under his name. We see this as an extraordinary partnership where we can combine our expertise in creating premium quality products with Dr. Gupta’s worldwide name recognition,” said Tree of Knowledge CEO Jean-Paul Gaillard in the August announcement.
The story gets weirder, as the CNN Dr. Sanjay Gupta replied to Tree of Knowledge’s tweets announcing the the line.
The Canadian company tweeted, “Tree Of Knowledge International is partnering with @drsanjaygupta for “Dr. Gupta’s” CBD tinctures, capsules and salves.”
In a tweet on August 13, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta responded to the initial news stories that broke about the “Dr. Gupta’s” new product line, Dr. Gupta tweeted, “Guys, you know this isn’t true. I haven’t partnered with anyone and have never endorsed any products. Perhaps you are doing good work, but you are absolutely misrepresenting my involvement. First I ever heard of this was from this tweet. Please correct.”
In comments to Hemp Industry Daily, Tree of Knowledge chair Michael Caridi “scoffed” at the idea the Dr. Gupta’s product line was intentionally ambiguous about which Dr. Gupta was endorsing the product.
“The way (consumers) are going to tell them apart is, they’re going to go to doctors in the pain association and hear about it there,” Caridi told the outlet. In the initial press release on the Dr. Gupta’s product line, the Tree of Knowledge did not draw a clear distinction between the two doctors or outright state that their Dr. Gupta was not the famous CNN reporter.
It it yet to be seen if the CNN Dr. Sanjay Gupta will pursue further action or if the “Dr. Gupta’s” products will make it clear on their labeling which Dr. Gupta is endorsing the products.
While the initial trademark issue is developing under Canadian law, if the products get released to the United States later this year as planned, the issue would then be fair game in the US legal system. In many cases, just because someone has the name, doesn’t necessarily mean they own the trademark and right to use it. It seems odd that they would declare this not an intentional confusion, but then intentional tweet at the wrong Dr. Gupta.
B. Le Grand