The phrase “Taco Tuesday” is no longer protected by a trademark after a taco restaurant chain relinquished its claim to the phrase.
It’s fair to say that this Taco Tuesday marked the beginning of a significant shift in attitude and the conclusion of what could have been a lengthy legal battle between Taco John’s and Taco Bell over a two-word phrase.
Since 1989, Taco John’s has owned the trademark in all U.S. states except New Jersey. Taco Bell filed a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office arguing that no one should own the rights to a common phrase.
Taco Bell filed a petition with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to cancel Taco John’s long-standing trademark on the phrase “Taco Tuesday,” arguing that the term “should belong to all who make, sell, eat, and celebrate tacos.”
In a statement published on Tuesday, Taco John’s announced that it was relinquishing its trademark on those two words and would end its legal battle to retain it.
Taco John’s CEO Jim Creel stated, “We’ve always prided ourselves on being the home of Taco Tuesday, but paying millions of dollars to lawyers to defend our mark just doesn’t feel like the right thing to do.” “As we’ve said before, we’re lovers, not fighters, at Taco John’s,” she added.
Instead, Creel has pledged a $40,000 donation, or $100 for each of its 400 locations, to the non-profit organization Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE), which provides financial assistance to food and beverage industry workers confronting health crises and other difficulties.
Taco Bell is not the only company that could be saving money on attorneys’ fees; Creel told the Wall Street Journal that fighting Taco Bell in court could have cost up to $1 million. “It’s just not worth the amount of money it would take to defend it,” he said.” We’d rather take that money and put it toward a good cause.”
LeBron James attempted to trademark Taco Tuesday in 2019, but his request was denied. He has since appeared in a Taco Bell advertisement advocating for the phrase’s widespread use.
Since 1984, Taco John’s has possessed the trademark for “Taco Tuesday” in 49 states. The term is owned by Gregory’s Restaurant and Bar in New Jersey. Taco Bell filed a distinct objection in that state, but the restaurant’s co-owner told Reuters they had no intention of giving up their own trademark.