By declaring a mission to unleash “Taco Tuesday” for everyone, Taco Bell is asking US regulators to force Wyoming-based Taco John’s to drop its longstanding claim to the trademark.
Too many companies and others refer to «Taco Tuesday» for Taco John’s to have exclusive rights to the phrase, Taco Bell claims in a US Patent and Trademark Office filing which, of course, is dated Tuesday.
It’s the latest development in a longstanding feud over Taco Tuesday that even included NBA star LeBron James making an unsuccessful attempt to reclaim the trademark in 2019.
“Taco Bell believes that ‘Taco Tuesday’ is central to everyone’s Tuesday. To deprive someone of saying ‘Taco Tuesday,’ whether it’s Taco Bell or anyone who provides tacos to the world, is like depriving the world of sunlight,” the Taco Bell presentation read.
With more than 7,200 locations in the US and internationally, Taco Bell, a Yum! The chain of brands, along with Pizza Hut, KFC and The Habit Burger Grill, is much larger than Cheyenne-based Taco John’s. Started as a food truck more than 50 years ago, Taco John’s now has about 370 locations in 23 primarily Midwestern and Western states.
The relatively small size of the chain hasn’t discouraged the big-time application of «Taco Tuesday» as a trademark, which dates back to the 1980s. In 2019, the company sent a letter to a brewery just five blocks from its headquarters corporate, warning you to stop using «Taco Tuesday» to promote a taco truck parked outside on Tuesdays.
Actively defending a trademark is key to maintaining entitlement to a trademark, and the letter was just one example of Taco John telling restaurants that no one else can use «Taco Tuesday.»
Taco John’s responded to Taco Bell’s introduction by announcing a new two-week Taco Tuesday promotion, to a large response.
“I would like to thank our worthy competitors at Taco Bell for reminding everyone that Taco Tuesday is best celebrated at Taco John’s,” CEO Jim Creel said in an emailed statement. “We love celebrating Taco Tuesday with taco lovers everywhere, and we even want to offer a special invite to Taco Bell fans to break free and come see how tasty and sassy tacos can be at Taco. John’s all month long.
However, «Taco Tuesday» is in such widespread use and recognition these days, as a generic way to promote tacos on a specific day of the week, that Taco John’s still cannot claim sole ownership, Taco Bell claims in its presentation.
“’Taco Tuesday’ is a common phrase. No one should have exclusive rights to a common phrase. Can you imagine if we weren’t allowed to say ‘how’s it going’ or ‘lunch’? Chaos,” read the Taco Bell document, written with a dash of spicy marketing language.
The performance is one of two at Taco Bell involving «Taco Tuesday.» One challenges Taco John’s claim of «Taco Tuesday» in 49 states, along with a similar filing challenging a New Jersey restaurant and bar’s claim of «Taco Tuesday» in that state. Both Taco John’s and Gregory’s Restaurant and Bar in Somers Point, New Jersey have been using «Taco Tuesday» for over 40 years.
A Taco John’s franchisee in Minnesota came up with «Taco Twosday» to promote two tacos for 99 cents on a slow weekday, Creel told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday.
The US Patent and Trademark Office approved the «Taco Tuesday» trademark in 1989. And while Taco John’s sends out letters asking other companies not to use «Taco Tuesday,» the company has never had to go to court over the phrase, Creel said. .
It’s also not too bothered by the much larger Taco Bell.
«Okay. It’s good that they noticed,» Creel said.