Now I admit, slicing and dicing of words and phrases and creating concoctions may not yield as delicious of a result as doing the same thing in the kitchen with diverse ingredients. I mean, in trademark law there is this overarching concern with creating trademarks in descriptive words and phrases. A word used as a mark cannot describe a feature or aspect of the product or service that the mark will be used with. This may be why the mastermind of this culinary creation faced such a backlash when he attempted to register the trademark "Cronut". Criticism ranged from the charge that Dominique Ansel was unfairly depriving others of the opportunity to use such a convenient word to a claim that Ansel was simply trying to take credit for inventing a particular pastry.
Hmmm… that doesn’t really sound compatible with the whole rationale for trademarks. The problem with this sentiment (the “show ‘em who’s boss” mentality) is that it is in danger of contorting the real purpose of a trademark. People get trademarks to protect source identifying characteristics of a symbol, not to protect the idea itself. A trademark can nary do more to stop someone else from making croissant/doughnut products than the owner of a pizza shop that makes the world’s largest pie can stop another pizza joint from doing the same. In this case, Ansel is worried about all the copycats making their own croissant/doughnut things and riding on the tailcoats of the Cronut mark. If I were Ansel, I would be more worried about the tendency of Cronut to become a generic word for croissant/doughnut concoctions than I would be about somebody using a mark like DOISSANT.
This is a problem that most makers of revolutionary products face: having created some kind of extraordinary, unprecedented product, the maker has created a kind of shock to the minds of consumers. Consumers are not quite sure what to call this strange item, so they may be apt to stick to using a name that was originally paired with the item. There are many examples of this happening including Escalator, Zamboni, and let us not forget Yo-Yo.
I think the tendency of consumers to use a particular word as the name of a product is even stronger when the trademark is descriptive. I think that is the case here. Cro (croissant) and Nut (donut) could strike a consumer as a convenient way to reference a pastry that lacks a suitable alternative. If this is the case, then consumers may be apt to just attach “cronut” on the end of any brand name such that the only way to differentiate between Harry and Larry’s croissant/donut creation is by using the names Harry or Larry.
This result could be presented by strong diligence on Ansel’s part. He would have to stem the tide of public opinion against using the word “Cronut” descriptively or generically to refer to all versions of his creation, no matter the source. Sending out cease and desist letters probably won’t cut it alone and it seems difficult to threaten suits against every person who misuses CRONUT. A battle like this one is best levied carefully, perhaps by labeling Ansel’s products as Ansel’s Original CRONUT pastry treats.
And there you go. A sweet ending to a sweet conundrum.