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Kellogg Co. v. Exxon Corp.
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
209 F.3d 562 (6th Cir. 2000)
Kellogg Company (Kellogg) (plaintiff) registered a “Tony the Tiger” trademark in 1952. Seven years later, Exxon Corporation (Exxon) (defendant) began using a cartoon tiger in its promotions. Exxon registered a cartoon tiger trademark in 1965. At the time, Exxon sold only petroleum products. In 1984, Exxon opened its first convenience store and renewed registration for the cartoon tiger trademark the following year. Starting in the early 1990s, Exxon began using the cartoon tiger in connection with convenience stores that sold food and beverages. The convenience stores were called Tiger Mart and displayed Exxon’s trademarked cartoon tiger. Between 1992 and 1996, Exxon increased the number of Tiger Mart convenience stores from eight to 265. In 1996, Kellogg sued Exxon, alleging trademark infringement and dilution of Kellogg’s “Tony the Tiger” mark. Exxon argued that Kellogg had acquiesced to Exxon’s use of the cartoon tiger mark by failing to oppose the mark’s registration in 1952 and renewal in 1985 and failing to bring suit until 1996. The United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee granted Exxon’s motion for summary judgment, holding that Kellogg had acquiesced to Exxon’s use of the cartoon tiger mark. The district court further held that the doctrine of progressive encroachment did not apply, because Exxon and Kellogg were not direct competitors. Kellogg appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Batchelder, J.)
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