Frito-Lay Loses Food Fight Over IP Infringement

Frito-Lay’s “Tostitos Scoops” tortilla chips may be one of the most convenient ways to eat salsa, but a Texas jury recently found that similarly shaped chips do not infringe the snack company’s patent.

The lawsuit alleged that Medallion Foods Inc., which sells Bowlz chips, violated Frito-Lay’s trade dress and patent rights. Frito-Lay holds a 2003 patent on the process used to make the bowl-shaped tortilla chips. It also holds trade dress rights in the Scoops design and its packaging, the former of which is registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“Frito-Lay has invested significantly in this product and it has enjoyed widespread consumer acceptance and success,” Frito-Lay said in its complaint. “[I]nfringement of Frito-Lay’s intellectual property rights harms Frito-Lay as well as Frito-Lay customers who many be confused and deceived…”

To bolster its claims, Frito-Lay provided color photographs of the two chips, both with scalloped edges. It also noted similarities between the packaging, which are both blue, with black writing on a geometric background, and a square, clear panel in the center.

However, it appears that the jury was not convinced that customers would be confused about the source of the product. It found that Medallion did not dilute or infringe Frito-Lay’s trade dress rights or infringe Frito-Lay’s patent on the process for making the chips.

Source: Reuters

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