Los Angeles – A Trademark dispute concerning Fruit Loops mascot Toucan Sam was recently resolved without litigation. The dispute began when cereal maker Kellogg asked San Francisco based cultural heritage group the Mayan Archaeology Initiative (MAI) to cease using a logo that Kellogg claimed was too familiar to the well-known Fruit Loops mascot, Toucan Sam.
Both MAI and Kellogg’s Fruit Loops cereal feature a toucan in their logos. While the Fruit Loops mascot is seen on advertisements and cereal boxes in a variety of poses and situations, the MAI logo consists of a toucan in front of a Mayan style pyramid.
Kellogg alleged in its cease and desist letter that MAI’s continued use of the toucan logo could lead to consumer confusion and dilution of Kellogg’s trademark.Trademark dilution occurs when a non-competing good features the same or similar trademark. Use of the trademark on non-competing goods threatens to destroy the distinctiveness of a trademark by reducing the association between that trademark and the original product.
In this case, Kellogg claimed that its cereal products, including Fruit Loops were successful in Guatemala and that Guatemalans identified the toucan mascot with the cereal. Kellogg also argued that Toucan Sam has also been depicted in front of a Mayan style backdrop. Kellogg alleged that MAI’s continued use of the trademark would threaten the distinctiveness of the trademark as consumers may come to associate a cartoon toucan with a source other than Kellogg.
Though Kellogg attorneys claimed MAI’s mascot was confusingly similar to Toucan Sam, MAI officials replied that there was little similarity between the two logos and that MAI hoped to resolve the matter out of court. According to a joint statement released by Kellogg and MAI, the dispute has been resolved. Kellogg agreed to donate $100,000 to MAI to aid an MAI project. Kellogg has also agreed to advertise accomplishments of the organization on its website as well as its cereal boxes.