What’s in a name? A lot, if your name happens to be Coffee By Design but everyone calls you CBD.

The owners of the popular Portland coffee roaster Coffee By Design say their brand is getting so confused with the trendy cannabis compound CBD that they are consulting with their attorneys on a strategy to protect their trademark. Alan Spear and Mary Allen Lindemann, the owners of Coffee By Design, have owned the trademark for CBD in two categories – coffee and coffee shops – since May 4, 2010. They unveiled a new logo using the three-letter abbreviation CBD in 2017, and the company’s Twitter handle is @CBDportland.

Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is a compound derived from hemp that users are adding to everything from coffee to edible gummy frogs for its purported health benefits. Cannabidiol doesn’t get you high, but people who ingest it in extracts and edibles claim it helps with issues such as anxiety and insomnia.

Just a week ago, state health authorities unexpectedly ordered that edible products containing cannabidiol, or CBD, be removed from stores because the product is not a federally approved food additive. It’s still unclear how that move will affect the explosive growth of the CBD industry in Maine.

Spear says his company has been getting calls from wholesalers wanting to buy CBD coffee because they think it contains cannabidiol. Coffee shops are putting “CBD coffee” on their menus, meaning they are adding CBD extract to the coffee, but not selling coffee roasted by Coffee By Design.

“How confusing is that?” Spear said Friday.


If a coffee shop advertises that it sells CBD cold brew, meaning cold brew infused with CBD, “they’re in violation of the trademark,” Spear said.

He said the confusion also has affected their mail order business.

“We’ve been mail-ordering coffee all over the country and Japan,” Spear said. “If somebody orders our coffee and they think it has CBD in it, there’s going to be a problem.”

Spear was unfamiliar with cannabidiol until recently. (He says he’s more of a club soda and cranberry kind of guy.) He first noticed the CBD signs popping up on the commercial landscape last spring, when he was driving to his condo in Bridgton with his daughter. Along the way, he spotted a convenience store that was advertising CBD. Bewildered, he called his staff to ask if the store was one of their wholesale customers. They told him no and explained what was going on.

“I just kind of blew it off,” he said. “Then, all of a sudden, I saw the CBD in another store. And I saw it popping up in another place.”

Spear says all he’s asking is that coffee shops “take CBD off and call it what it is. Call it cannabidiol.”

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:


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