The importance of trademarks cannot be underestimated in the Age of the Internet, and trademark wars are becoming more frequent – and more contentious. Easily understood product names, closely connected to common search terms, can be worth millions. The New York Times chronicles the Pretzel Chips wars. The founders of the small company producing Pretzel Chips are being sued by snack food giant Frito-Lay, a division of Pepsi Co. over their attempts to trademark their product name. Frito-Lay argues that the term “Pretzel Chip” cannot be trademarked because it is too generic :“Like ‘milk chocolate bar,’ the combination of ‘pretzel’ and ‘crisp’ gains no meaning as a phrase over and above the generic meaning of its constituent terms,” Frito-Lay argued in a 2010 motion. Even if Frito-Lay cannot win on the merits, analysts observe that it can inflict serious, if not fatal, damage to the manufacturers of the Pretzel Chip.
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