Thin to Lose?

One of my friends, when playing blackjack and asked to “cut the deck” after it has been shuffled, consistently admonishes without hesitation: “Thin to win.”

Given the trademark story for today, you may end up believing the opposite.

A 6-year trademark fight between Frito-Lay and Real Foods ended this month.

Frito-Lay opposed Real Foods’ applications to register Rice Thins and Corn Thins:

 

Real Foods apparently decided not to appeal the TTAB’s September 2019 decision, finding both claimed marks generic and incapable of trademark status, thereby allowing the genericness decision to become the final story.

The TTAB concluded, in the context of the records for those claimed marks, “thins” added zero or nothing in terms of distinctiveness.

“[W]e find that the combination of CORN THINS and RICE THINS as a whole imparts no new meaning and that the relevant public will understand CORN THINS and RICE THINS to refer to a subcategory or key aspect of crackers, or ‘crispbread slices predominantly of corn, namely popped corn cakes’ and ‘crispbread slices primarily made of rice, namely rice cakes,’ respectively. CORN THINS and RICE THINS are, therefore, generic terms and are incapable of identifying the source of such products; purchasers will understand and will use such terms to refer to as a subcategory of crackers.”

There is quite a bit of detail to the 6-year story for trademark types, with the case ending this way, but our friend John Welch has covered the history far too well to repeat, so if you’re interested, please see here and here, and here, instead.

Yet, for our discussion, if Rice Thins and Corn Thins are truly generic and incapable of performing as trademarks, what kind of a hand might that signal to others?

As Seth Godin has said, in “The thing about elephants,” they don’t hide well, so when one is in the room, if you simply mention it’s there, it just might leave.

Just saying, what does all of this mean for Good Thins® or Wheat Thins®?

Might there be a more creative, perhaps suggestive way to convey thinness?

This creative team may have a card up its sleeve and be holding the winning hand with this inherently distinctive take on the concept of thin, a/k/a Thinsters®:

What do you think, does Thinsters® hold the winning hand on creativity?

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