Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pretzel Crisps™

The New York Times has an interesting article about a trademark battle between Frito-Lay and a small food company that innovated those tasty and oh-so-dippable Pretzel Crisps.

Specifically, Frito Lay opposes the effort to register a trademark for the term "Pretzel Crisps" because, they argue, it generically describes the snack category. Generic terms cannot be trademarked, even if they acquire distinctiveness (or secondary meaning).

The article sets this up as a David vs. Goliath story, with Big Food using spurious IP claims to crush a scrappy snack entrepreneur. But that's not quite right. After all, it is the little guy here who is trying to stake an IP claim by registering the trademark. (They got out of the funnel cake business because "anyone can make a funnel cake . . . You can’t trademark or patent it.") And "Pretzel Crisps" seems pretty generic to me.

Anyhow, as always the Gillette-Torvik Blog will be keeping an eye on this case as it proceeds through the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.


  1. My contribution to keeping an eye on this case will be to eat some Fritos from time to time.


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