Who owns the term Taco Tuesday?
It may come down to a determination from the US Patent and Trademark Office.
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That after Taco Bell filed a petition with the federal agency to “liberate” the term Taco Tuesday, even though another smaller Mexican food rival claims the moniker for its own.
Taco Johns’, a Cheyanne, Wy.-based restaurant chain has owned the Taco Tuesday trademark for 34 years and has regularly filed cease and desist orders against eateries that claim the name. It claims full ownership of the term in 49 US states (a New Jersey restaurant called Gregory’s owns the term in the Garden State.)
The fast-food chain has historically defended its aggressive tactics on its Taco Tuesday trademark and isn’t apologizing for doing so.
In a 2016 TEDx talk, former marketing executive Billie Jo Maara said the term is embedded deeply into the firm’s DNA
“I know that we’ve been seen as a bully, some corporate giant that is protecting this brand, but really it’s us protecting the little guy,” Maara said. “Great ideas can come from the most unexpected places, and when they do, we should protect them.”
For its part, Taco Bell claims the term is so generic at this point that anyone should be able to use it – even direct competitors. Taco Tuesday “should be freely available to all who make, sell, eat, and celebrate tacos,” the company said in its petition.
Taco Bell also noted the severe action Taco Johns’ can take if another entity uses the term 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 company stated in the petition. Nobody should have exclusive rights in a common phrase.”
The US Patent and Trademark Office often moves at a glacial pace with two-year waits not uncommon for making similar decisions.
Taco Johns isn’t backing down no matter how long it takes.
“Taco Bell has not reached out to us, so we have no comment on any possible trademark action,” Taco John’s responded in a statement. “Taco John’s would like to thank our worthy competitors at Taco Bell for reminding everyone that ‘Taco Tuesday’ is best celebrated at Taco John’s – the trademark owner of Taco Tuesday.”
To add even more spice, Taco John’s will offer two tacos for $2 for the rest of May.