Breaking News!
(Full Press Release)
May 23, 2000

Toucans Win 6-Year Trademark Battle With Cereal Giant!

Since 1993, the Seattle-based Toucans Steel Drum Band has been embroiled in a lengthy trademark dispute with the Kellogg Company. On Monday, May 22, after seven frustrating years of legal negotiations, the Toucans received the certificate of registration for their band's name from the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) .

"We knew we could win, we just didn't realize how long it would take," said Toucan Rob, who started the band at the Evergreen State College in the 1980's.

The dispute arose over the band's attempt to register their name as a trademark in class 9 (which includes sound recordings), a move which Kellogg's lawyers attempted to obstruct, and characterized as "likely to confuse customers". The cereal giant maintained that their 1980 release of "Toucan Sam's Safari Adventure" (a free record pasted to the inside of a box of Froot Loops) established Toucan Sam as a recording artist, and demanded that the Toucans immediately withdraw their registration.

The band spent thousands of dollars, and sent lawyers across the country in an attempt to reach an equitable settlement with Kellogg's, but the cereal company's restrictive terms made it impossible to reach an agreement. Despite absolutely no reports of consumer confusion between breakfast cereal and steel drum music, the Battle Creek corporation continued to assert that "damages to Kellogg's have resulted" and continued to press their opposition.

Faced with a mountain of legal obstruction, the Toucans reapplied for their trademark in class 41 (entertainment services) on advice of their counsel, Neil Sussman. Kellogg's, apparently withdrawing from their vigorous opposition due to public pressure, did not oppose this last registration, which was granted to the Toucans by the USPTO just a few days ago.

"It seems like the cereal company is too busy tangling with the Exxon tiger to worry about a bunch of Toucans," said band member Toucan Pete, referencing the current trademark dispute between Kellogg's and Exxon over a similar animal mascot.

Toucan Rob is relieved with the outcome. "Now I can tell my mom to stop thinking up other band names for us."

Steel Drums - They're Not Just For Breakfast Anymore!

Remember to call Kellogg's Consumer Affairs Department at:
1-800-962-1413 (or email to with your opinions!

Here's a black & white version of the graphic (for reprint use).

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