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A Ripoff of Toucan Sam?

Kellogg Co. says a San Ramon nonprofit's logo is too similar to the cartoon Fruit Loops mascot. You be the judge.

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."

Clay Haswell August 23, 2011 at 02:39 AM
Does Kellogg think that just because they are big they can trademark a bird?
Juli Fountain August 23, 2011 at 04:00 AM
I agree. Just because they both have toucans does not mean they are the same or even similar. I don't think of Kellogg at all when I see this logo.
Juli Fountain August 23, 2011 at 04:01 AM
Actually...let me rephrase...I don't think of fake fruit when I see this logo.
Pat August 23, 2011 at 03:42 PM
The claim issues are easily disputed in that the MAI logo does not look like Kellogg's, the logo is a common representation. the intent is clearly not to intrude on Kellogg's target market, the intent of communicated messages is unrelated to the Kellogg's message. No claim basis and Kellogg has professional and advertising liability insurance that can cover their legal expenses when MAI sues them for legal fees.l

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