On June 4, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina affirmed a decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) that “PRETZEL CRISPS” is generic in connection with pretzel crackers. In 2004, the USPTO refused Princeton-Vanguard’s U.S. Application Serial No. 78/405,596 for “PRETZEL CRISPS” in connection with pretzels based on the position that the mark was merely descriptive. Nevertheless, the company subsequently filed U.S. Application Serial No. for “PRETZEL CRISPS” in connection with “pretzel crackers” in late 2009. Shortly thereafter, snack giant Frito-Lay filed a notice of opposition to the new application, arguing genericness. The TTAB agreed with Frito-Lay, finding “PRETZEL CRISPS” generic.

Princeton-Vanguard appealed to the Federal Circuit, which reversed the TTAB’s decision for application of the incorrect legal standard (but did not address the parties’ arguments). However, the TTAB reached the same conclusion on remand. Instead of appealing once more, Princeton-Vanguard filed a civil action in the Western District of North Carolina seeking review of the latest TTAB decision. While the Court acknowledged that Princeton-Vanguard’s product is “hugely successful,” it ultimately decided that “PRETZEL CRISPS” is generic and therefore not registerable.

This case is Snyder’s Lance, Inc. and Princeton-Vanguard, LLC v. Frito-Lay North America, Inc., Case No. 3:17-cv-00652-KDB-DSC in the Western District of North Carolina.[1]


Decision:  https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/20805098-ip-fritolay-trademarks-opinion.

Image:  https://www.walgreens.com/store/c/the-snack-factory-pretzel-chips-original/ID=prod6217047-product?ext=gooKBM_PLA+-+Grocery+(2019+Update)Grocery__pla_local&gclsrc=aw.ds&&gclid=Cj0KCQjwk4yGBhDQARIsACGfAetwqLQxdANyNU7X7oMWm0cls4VP2lT8oWJUK25X3HyT0LJtp4Q8FMaAtu5EALw_wcB (last accessed Jun. 11, 2021 at 4:01 PM).