Kellogg in legal tussle over toucan

Aug. 24, 2011 at 4:43 PM

BATTLE CREEK, Mich., Aug. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. food giant Kellogg Co. is in a trademark infringement fight over its Toucan Sam mascot, a non-profit group in California said.

The Maya Archeology Initiative in San Ramon, Calif., said Kellogg has claimed the toucan in the non-profit group's logo is a trademark infringement, The Battle Creek (Mich.) Enquirer reported Tuesday.

A Kellogg representative Kris Charles said the company does not comment "on pending litigation," but the Maya Archeology Initiative's attorney Sarah Mott said Kellogg and the non-profit group could not possibly be considered competitors.

"MAI's trademark is made up of iconic images. It's toucan is based upon a realistic toucan endemic to Mesoamerica. Kellogg provides sugary cereal and entertainment through Toucan Sam, his cousins and a make-believe world that pretends to reflect something real," she said.

Kellogg's Toucan Sam has a colorful, striped beak that is meant to mimic the colors in its Froot Loops cereal. Kellogg has used the image since 1963, the newspaper said.

The toucan in MAI's logo appears on gifts, such as coffee mugs, that the group uses to reward donors.

"The goal of the initiative is to help both indigenous Maya culture and the children who share that heritage," group spokesman Sam Haswell said.

With Kellogg not commenting, it was not clear what stage the litigation mentioned by Charles was at, the newspaper said.

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