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Agreement Reached in Toucan Trademark Battle

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Toucans in Riviera Maya

Toucans in Riviera Maya by Grand Velas Riviera Maya on Flickr

Back in September, we told you about the trademark battle over the humble toucan between the Maya Archaeology Initiative and Kellogg Company:

Kellogg’s avers that the image of a toucan in the culture heritage group’s logo could confuse consumers into thinking the it is associated with the cereal conglomerate, which owns the trademark for Toucan Sam, the Froot Loops’ mascot.

Kellogg’s had asked MAI to scrap the toucon from its logo, but the group refused to yield to the cereal conglomerate’s pressure and pushed right back.

We expressed hope that an agreement could be reached out of court, and indeed that is exactly what has happened.

In true toucan-do spirit, Kellogg and MAI announced the agreement via joint statement; Kellogg will drop its request that MAI lose the toucan and will also donate $100,000 to a MAI project aimed at helping Maya people in Central America.

Also as part of the agreement, Kellogg’s website and cereal boxes will be tweaked. The company had already dropped from its site the arguably culturally insensitive, even offensive game that allowed users to search for Maya treasure in which “the only character of color is the villain, an evil witchdoctor who cackles and steals,” but now it will also include a section highlighting accomplishments by the Maya culture. Moreover, next year’s Froot Loops’ boxes will display the URL to MAI’s website.

In an email to the Battle Creek Enquirer, Kris Charles, Kellogg’s vice president for global communications and philanthropy, said: “After conversations with MAI to better understand how they intend to use this design, we worked with them to identify an approach to revise their trademark application that will enable them to continue using their logo for their not-for-profit fundraising efforts.”

Now the tou-can continue on with business as usual, each with its own toucan-themed logo but with no confusion as to which toucan belongs to whom. If only all trademark disputes could end with so little . . . tou-canimosity. Yes, just had to get that last one in.

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November 21st, 2011 at 6:37 am