May 14, 2007 / 6:36 AM / in 11 years

Donald Duck vanquishes Mexico soft drink lookalike

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Donald Duck has chased off a Mexican look-alike after a trademark dispute that simmered for decades between Disney and a beverage maker that copied the hot-headed cartoon character for its logo in 1940.

Pascual Boing, known in Mexico for tropical fruit drinks like mango and guayaba, is ditching its old logo based on Walt Disney Co.’s sailor-suited duck in favor of a rapper-style duck with spiky feathers and a blue baseball cap worn backward.

The updated character still will be known as Pato Pascual (Pascual Duck) and the beverage cooperative already has printed the new logo on some of its packaging. Alfonso Sanchez, No. 2 on the Pascual Boing board, said the company was replacing logos on its trucks and staff uniforms with the new design.

”The dispute hasn’t been decided one way or the other but we wanted to bring this face, which is years old, up to date,“ he said. ”The new one is similar but younger.

“It was time to modernize the logo.”

A Pascual Boing spokesman explained the logo change by saying, “To avoid ending up with a more complicated situation, court cases and everything, we decided to modify the logo.”

Disney declined to comment.

Pascual Boing adopted a logo identical to Donald Duck just as the spluttering white-feathered star was challenging Mickey Mouse’s popularity in the United States and making waves in Mexico with his famously mercurial character.

It got away with it for 40 years but a trademark dispute blew up about 30 years ago, just as Pascual Boing was battling massive new competition from U.S. fizzy cola drinks.

After a court case in Mexico, Pascual Boing altered Pato Pascual very slightly so it could keep the logo, the company spokesman said. But a few years ago Disney renewed its objections and said the duck still looked too much like Donald.

About the same time as the battle over its duck began, Pascual Boing was struck in the 1980s by a bitter labor dispute that led to workers taking control and transforming it into a cooperative. Today it has a workforce of about 5,000 and has clung onto 15 percent of Mexico’s soft drinks market.

Mexicans are among the world’s biggest guzzlers of sugary drinks and increasingly shun natural fruit beverages for Coca-Cola’s Coke, Sprite and apple-flavored Manzanita Lift or PepsiCo Inc.’s Pepsi Cola and Manzanita Sol.

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