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 TTB’s reconsideration.