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Two Can Too Toucan, or Can They? Kellogs v. MAI

I’ve had a fun and engaging debate in the comments section of my last post with The Trademark TrollDick Troll, who most certainly is the only IP troll of any kind that I’ll ever like.  Today Dick wrote about Kellogg’s trademark claim against the Maya Archeology Institute (MAI), about which MAI issued a press release this past Sunday.

MAI is a project of the World Free Press Institute (WFPI), which is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support free speech worldwide.  MAI’s mission focuses on the protecting the land and cultural heritage of northern Guatemala under five pillars: education; conservation; research; preservation and community engagement.  Kellogg’s sells consumer packaged goods.  Not only do the two organizations appear to have no overlapping products or services, the Toucans don’t look anything alike:

Kellogg's touts toucan trademark confusionIt’s a bummer that MAI has not released Kellogg’s C&D letter so that we can see exactly what claims Kellogg made and what facts it has to support those claims (yeah, right).  Without that, we are left to mere speculation.

My theory?  This is our first exposure to a Big Cereal plot to rule through a puppet toucan.  Hear me out.

In the U.S. we have Big Corporations (now known as people, thanks to the US Supreme Court), Big Banks, and some would say Big Government.  It only makes sense that a company like Kellogg’s would want its share of the pie too.  After all, it surely has a sugar addiction having had Fruit Loops (first ingredient, sugar) for breakfast every morning since the 1960s.  The U.S. is already over saturated (pun intended) in corporate conquistadors, so why not journey down south to, say, Guatemala, for the first Big Cereal takeover.  Far-fetched, you say?  No matter what Kellogg’s claims are, I cannot fathom that they are any less far-fetched than my theory.  I mean, really.  What would possibly justify this under trademark law or good business practices (note to Kellogg: people don’t like bullies!).

MAI and WFPI are working to get the word out about Kellogg’s actions (though, again, I wish they would get more words out, specifically those written by Kellogg’s counsel).  Meanwhile, as with any trademark bullying case about which we learn, we can “vote with our dollars.”

The best way to tell a company that you don’t like what it’s doing is to stop (or don’t start) buying its goods/services and send it a note telling it why.  Consumerism can be powerful, especially when you’re willing to be an activist consumer.



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