‘Taco Tuesday’ is at the center of a legal battle between Taco Bell, Taco John’s, and potentially the U.S. government.
Taco John’s, an American Mexican-inspired fast food franchise specific to the Midwest, trademarked the phrase ‘Taco Tuesday’ in 1989 and has defended it ever since. They’ve never taken umbrage with businesses declaring internal Taco Tuesdays for their employees, but have issued cease and desist letters to many restaurants, breweries, and food trucks in 49 states.
Taco Bell has filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademarks office to have Taco John’s claim vacated, however, on the basis that the term is now so generic that anyone should be able to use it.
“Taco Bell believes ‘Taco Tuesday’ is critical to everyone’s Tuesday. To deprive anyone of saying ‘Taco Tuesday’ — be it Taco Bell or anyone who provides tacos to the world — is like depriving the world of sunshine itself,” the Taco Bell filing reads.
It’s not a new argument – other words which became too generic to be trademarks include cellophane, escalator, trampoline, and slinky.
LeBron James tried to trademark ‘Taco Tuesday’ in 2019, to be used with regards to sports-themed parties, and was turned down on the basis that the phrase was too much of a “commonplace term,” to be trademarked, with no mention on Taco John’s.
Taco John’s responded to Taco Bell’s filing by announcing a new two-week Taco Tuesday promotion, with a large side of sass.
“I’d 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 invitation to fans of Taco Bell to liberate themselves by coming by to see how flavorful and bold tacos can be at Taco John’s all month long.”
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