Federal Circuit Overturns TTAB Ruling Finding “Pretzel Crisp” Generic
The Federal Circuit has reversed and remanded a Trademark Trial and
Appeal Board (TTAB) decision invalidating Snyder’s-Lance Inc.’s “Pretzel Crisp” trademark after Frito-Lay Inc. challenged the mark as generic.
Princeton Vanguard, LLC v. Frito-Lay N. Am., Inc., No. 14-1517 (Fed.
Cir., order entered May 15, 2015).
TTAB’s decision found that “Pretzel Crisp” is a compound term and
not a phrase, so it analyzed “pretzel” and “crisp” separately and found
both words to be generic descriptors of Snyder-Lance’s pretzel-cracker
product. The Federal Circuit disagreed with this method, holding that
TTAB had conducted a “short-cut analysis” by not considering “Pretzel
Crisp” as a whole phrase, because “the test for genericness is the same,
regardless of whether the mark is a compound term or a phrase.” At
the end of its decision, TTAB noted that “were we to analyze [‘Pretzel
Crisp’] as a phrase, on this record, our conclusion would be the same, as
the words strung together as a unified phrase also create a meaning that
we find to be understood by the relevant public as generic for ‘pretzel
crackers.’” The Federal Circuit further found that this short mention was
insufficient analysis and remanded the case for TTAB’s reconsideration.