A court fight between corporate heavyweights Kellogg Co. (NYSE:K) and Exxon Mobil Corp. has been reignited over the use of cartoon tigers in advertisements of food items.

A federal appeals court has reinstated the lawsuit by Kellogg, the cereal maker, challenging Exxon’s use of a cartoon tiger to promote food and beverage sales at its convenience stores. The decision last week by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a 1998 pretrial ruling by U.S. District Judge Julia Gibbons, of Memphis, Tenn., who ruled in favor of Exxon. The case now returns to Gibbons for reconsideration.

Exxon and Kellogg spokesmen did not return telephone calls seeking comment Wednesday on the appellate court’s ruling.

Both Kellogg, based in Battle Creek, Mich., and Exxon, based in Irving, Texas, have used cartoon tigers to advertise since the 1950s.

Kellogg used its Tony the Tiger symbol to promote cereal sales and Exxon used its “Whimsical Tiger” to promote sales of petroleum products. After Exxon began using the tiger in ads to promote food and beverage sales at its convenience stores, Kellogg sued Exxon in 1996.

Exxon argued that Kellogg had acquiesced to Exxon’s advertising use of its tiger. In 1968, Kellogg asked Exxon not to oppose Kellogg’s application to register its Tony the Tiger trademark in Germany. Exxon’s “Whimsical Tiger” trademark, obtained with no opposition from Kellogg, became legally incontestable in 1970.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

Kellogg argued that Exxon progressively infringed on the cereal maker’s use of its Tony the Tiger by increasingly using it to boost sales of food items.