17 October 2000

The US Supreme Court yesterday relegated to a lower court for trial Kellogg’s action against Exxon Mobil over the right to use cartoon tigers in ads.

In one corner is Tony the Tiger, created by Kellogg’s in 1952, whose “fame and recognition permeate the entire food category”, according to Kellogg’s lawyers.

In the other is Exxon’s Tiger in your Tank, released into the ad world in 1964.

After what Exxon describes as “more than 30 years of peaceful co-existence”, Kellogg’s unsheathed its claws after the oil firm used its tiger to promote food and drink at gas stations, accusing the cartoon cat of trespassing into the territory of Tony the Tiger. However, Kellogg’s concedes that Exxon can use its tiger to promote oil.

Ironically, Julia Gibbons, the probable judge at January’s trial, threw the case out of court in 1998. The action was later revived in the appeals court.

News source: Financial Times