Frito-Lay has served up an unexpected twist for the inventors of Pretzel Crisps. The snack foods giant is trying to block the Montgomery Knoll-based company from registering the name of its product as a trademark.

Warren and Sara Wilson, the inventors of Pretzel Crisps, were the subject of a January 9, 2008, U.S. 1 cover story. They are owners of the Snack Factory in Skillman and creators of the flat pretzel snack known as Pretzel Crisps that have become a success since they were introduced four years ago.

The Snack Factory and Pretzel Crisps are both owned by Princeton Vanguard LLC, the Delaware entity that filed for the trademark and the subject of Frito-Lay’s trademark challenge.

“This is so different from anything else we’ve faced because we’re not fighting a product in the supermarket, we’re not fighting against an institution like a bank, we’re not dealing with an act of nature,” Wilson told the New York Times. “This fight is about a big company that wants to dominate the snack food category by crushing a little company like ours rather than by competing with us.”

The snack food market giant, owned by PepsiCo, argues in its filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, that Pretzel Crisps cannot be registered as a trademark because it is a generic term. “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,” the company wrote in a 2010 motion.

According to the Times, Princeton Vanguard has spent $1 million on legal fees, hiring David H. Bernstein and Joe DiSalvo, who won control of the Vitaminwater name for Glaciau, which is now owned by Coca-Cola. Retail sales of Pretzel Crisps are growing quickly and last year exceeded $100 million, according to Princeton Vanguard.

The dispute is still pending with the trademark office’s trial board.

Snack Factory LLC, 11 Tamarack Circle, Skillman 08558. 888-683-5400; Fax, 609-683-9595. Warren Wilson, president. www.pretzelcrisps.com

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