Cereal killer: there's a big cat in court as kellogg sues Exxon

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A bitter cat-fight that has been rumbling on for years is about to end with a legal showdown between two of America's best-known companies.

A bitter cat-fight that has been rumbling on for years is about to end with a legal showdown between two of America's best-known companies.

The US Supreme Court has finally cleared the way for breakfast-cereal maker Kellogg to proceed with a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil, the US parent of Esso. It argues that the oil giant's tiger-in-your-tank character is invading Tony the Tiger's territory.

Kellogg contends that as long as Exxon's tiger was only being used to promote the fuel itself, there was probably no confusion.

But more recently, the company has started using the image to advertise the chain of TigerMart convenience stores at its petrol stations.

The big-cat battle began in 1996 when Kellogg sued in a Memphis federal court, saying Exxon had crossed the line by using "Cartoon Tiger", as it is uninspiringly known, to sell food. The case was thrown out two years later and referred to the Supreme Court - which has now ruled that the case can be heard back in Memphis.

Both characters have been used in advertising campaigns since the mid-1960s. "During that time", said an Exxon spokesman, "the Cartoon Tiger has peacefully co-existed with a number of Tiger trademarks, including Tony."

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