Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 24, 2011 12:03 PM
It looks like the Kellogg Co. wants to corner the market on toucan logos. A California nonprofit has a toucan in its logo and the cereal maker is so worried that it might look too much like Toucan Sam from Froot Loops and related games that it is taking legal action.
The group, the Maya Archeology Initiative, begs to differ, of course. "MAI's trademark is made up of iconic images," said Sarah D. Mott, legal counsel for the nonprofit, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer. "Its 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."
Kellogg, of course, isn’t talking about pending litigation.
Toucan Sam has been around since 1963. The MAI was founded in 2010 “to defend indigenous Maya culture and the Guatemalan biosphere,” according to the Enquirer, and its toucan is “shown in front of a Maya pyramid on T-shirts, refrigerator magnets, coffee mugs and baseball hats given as premiums to the group's donors.”
Sam Haswell, the initiative’s spokesperson, seemed surprised that Kellogg would be upset with the nonprofit’s use of a toucan: "The goal of the initiative is to help both indigenous Maya culture and the children who share that heritage," he said. “It's a small NGO [nongovernmental organization] doing good in the world. Our logo has absolutely nothing to do with Kellogg. So I just think it's beyond the pale for Kellogg to say it has the sole trademark on all images of toucans.”
Or as Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli, the president of the initiative, put it, “This is a bit like the Washington Redskins claiming trademark infringement against the National Congress of American Indians."