The Battle for ‘Taco Tuesday’ Gets Spicy

Taco Bell says Taco John’s trademark ownership of the phrase is “not cool.”

June 28, 2023

The fight over the phrase “Taco Tuesday” is anything but over. Taco John’s has responded to Taco Bell’s petition to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the trademark “Taco Tuesday,” which Taco John’s owns, reports CNN.

Taco Bell had said that Taco John’s attempt to protect its trademark phrases was “not cool,” and that the commonly used phrase “should be freely available to all who make, sell, eat and celebrate tacos.” Because Taco John’s owns the trademark, other companies must ask permission from Taco John’s to use the phrase. The company has sent cease-and-desist letters to restaurants in markets where they operate and use the phrase Taco Tuesday.

The use of the phrase “potentially subjects Taco Bell and anyone else who wants to share tacos with the world to the possibility of legal action or angry letters if they say ‘Taco Tuesday’ without express permission from [Taco John’s]—simply for pursuing happiness on a Tuesday,” the original filing said.

Taco John’s parent company, Spicy Seasonings, denied there is “anything ‘not cool’ about” obtaining a trademark for the phrase. The Wyoming-based company said Taco Bell’s lawsuit is filled with “statements of opinion to which no response is required, including that Tuesday is a mediocre day of the week.”

Taco Bell has launched a marketing campaign featuring NBA star LeBron James to show how its attempting to “liberate Taco Tuesday.”

Gregory’s Restaurant & Bar is also in the fight against Taco Bell as the company owns “Taco Tuesday” in the state of New Jersey. Taco John’s has owned the trademark in every state except New Jersey since 1989.

“We’re just hoping that the court can see through this marketing plan by Taco Bell,” Greg Gregory, whose family owns Gregory’s, told The Wall Street Journal. Taco John’s said it would let the legal process continue.

The next step in the lawsuit is the discovery portion, and Gerben says Taco Bell will likely “conduct a survey to determine what portion of the American public associated Taco Tuesday,” with either Taco John’s or Gregory’s, “versus the phrase being a more of a general custom associated with eating tacos on Tuesdays,” he told CNN.

Taco John’s and Gregory’s will likely launch an investigation into whether or not Taco Bell has been “attempting to assist other restaurants or celebrities to use Taco Tuesday in an attempt to invalidate their trademark rights,” perhaps with a similar customer survey, Gerben told CNN.

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