- Associated Press - Sunday, August 30, 2015

MIAMI (AP) - The South Florida company that owns the rights to the popular TV psychic “Miss Cleo” is suing General Mills alleging copyright infringement for hiring the psychic to promote its breakfast cereal.

According to a complaint recently filed in federal court, Psychic Readers Network, Inc. said General Mills disregarded the intellectual property rights of others with a series of online ads where Miss Cleo amazes callers with her confident prediction that they will be filling their bowls with French Toast Crunch. The cereal was discontinued in 2006 but made a comeback earlier this year with help of Miss Cleo, and a Facebook fan page.

The lawsuit alleges the videos look very similar to the Psychic Readers Network’s commercials featuring Miss Cleo from the early 2000s. The Psychic Readers Network said it has spent more than $100 million to promote Miss Cleo since hiring her in the late 1990s and making her the company spokesperson. Psychic Readers Network said it copyrighted Miss Cleo Creatives in 2002, according to the lawsuit.

“Miss Cleo does have quite the folk hero cast to her, and it was an interesting choice by General Mills to bring her back to promote cereal,” said Joel Dichter, a lawyer for the Fort Lauderdale-based Psychic Readers. “But it shows their disregard for the intellectual property rights of others.”

He said General Mills General Mills withdrew the Miss Cleo ads from YouTube, Tumblr and other social media sites after the lawsuit was filed. A spokesman for General Mills said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

It’s unclear how much Miss Cleo, whose real name is Youree Dell Cleomili Harris , was paid by the cereal company.

A lawyer for Miss Cleo, William Cone Jr., told the Sun Sentinel (https://tinyurl.com/osrpzmy ) he’s never seen anything from Psychic Readers Network saying she needed to refrain from using this persona.

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