A San Ramon-based nonprofit that promotes Mayan culture made headlines today because of its logo, which cereal giant Kellogg Co. says is too much like the cartoon Froot Loops mascot Toucan Sam.
“This is a bit like the Washington Redskins claiming trademark infringement against the National Congress of American Indians,” said Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli, president of the Maya Archaeology Initiative and a globally recognized expert on Maya archaeology and culture.
Kellogg's legal team sent a letter asking for a settlment that would restrict the nonprofit's use of its logo.
The nonprofit responded today saying that its toucan logo looks very different from the Kellogg cartoon character and that they're not competitors.
"MAI's logo is based upon a realistic toucan native to Mesoamerica, while Kellogg’s Toucan Sam is a cartoon character with colors that represent Froot Loops’ food coloring," the nonprofit wrote in a statement.
This isn't the first time Kellogg challenged another entity's use of the Central American bird, according to the San Ramon nonprofit.
The Maya Archaeology Initiative runs under the umbrella of the World Free Press Institute, which promotes "free expression and challenging repression of cultural heritage issues."