Silly Rabbit, TRIX is for General Mills.

MINNEAPOLIS, April 29, 2009 -- General Mills, makers of breakfast cereal and other food items, has filed a trademark infringement, dilution, and cybersquatting action against two Turkish companies and their U.S. distributor in reaction to TRIX brand drink mix.

The complaint filed today by General Mills IP Holdings II, LLC in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota names Indian companies Soyyigit Gida Sanayi Ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi and Soyyigit Group along with the Illinois corporation International Golden Foods, Inc. as defendants.

According to the complaint, General Mills has been using the trademark TRIX in connection with cereal since July 29, 1910. Over the years, General Mills has used or licensed the TRIX mark in connection with flavored milk, yogurt, cereal bars, fruit-flavored snacks, and frozen treats.

General Mills claims to spent an average of $12 million per year on advertising the TRIX brand over the years 2003 through 2007 and generating an average of $175 million a year in income. General Mills holds a number of federal trademark registrations for the mark TRIX.

On June 14, 2006, Soyyigit Gida Sanayi Ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi filed an application ot register the mark KEN BORINGER TRIX with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) in connection with various beverages and various syrups and extracts for making beverages. At the same time, Soyyigit Gida Sanayi Ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi filed an application for KEN BORINGER in connection with beverages which received registered status on December 25, 2007.

General Mills initiated an opposition proceeding with the USPTO to prevent the registration of the mark KEN BORINGER TRIX on July 25, 2007. The complaint alleged Soyyigit Gida Sanayi Ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi represented during the discovery process that the mark KEN BORINGER TRIX was not being used in commerce yet in the U.S. The complaint then accuses the defendants of promoting and sell a powered drink mix under the TRIX moniker as early as the summer of 2008. General Mills further accuses the defendants of registering www.trixdrinks.com on May 5, 2007.

Pursuant to the Lanham Act, General Mills could recover defendants' profits and any damages sustained by the plaintiff if infringement of the federally registered mark TRIX is found. In assessing damages the court may enter judgment for any sum above the amount found as actual damages, up to three times. When a court finds a defendant intentionally counterfeited a registered trademark, the court must, unless the court finds extenuating circumstances, enter judgment for three times such profits or damages, whichever is greater, together with a reasonable attorney’s fee unless the Plaintiff elects for statutory damages up to $1,000,000 per counterfeit mark per type of goods or services sold, offered for sale, or distributed.

The maximum recovery allowed under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act is $100,000.

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