Taco Bell vs. Taco John’s: The Battle for Taco Tuesday

If you love tacos, you probably love Taco Tuesday. But did you know that the phrase “Taco Tuesday” is actually trademarked by a regional fast-food chain called Taco John’s? And that Taco Bell is trying to cancel that trademark and make it available for everyone to use?

In this blog post, we will explain the history and controversy behind Taco Tuesday, and why Taco Bell is challenging Taco John’s to “liberate” the trademark.

a row of tacos with meat, onions and cilantro

If you love tacos, you probably love Taco Tuesday. But did you know that the phrase “Taco Tuesday” is actually trademarked by a regional fast-food chain called Taco John’s? And that Taco Bell is trying to cancel that trademark and make it available for everyone to use?

In this blog post, we will explain the history and controversy behind Taco Tuesday, and why Taco Bell is challenging Taco John’s to “liberate” the trademark.

What is Taco Tuesday?

Taco Tuesday is a popular promotion that many restaurants offer to attract customers on Tuesdays by selling tacos at a discounted price or with other incentives. The term has become a part of American culture and is widely used by taco lovers, celebrities, and even politicians.

However, not everyone can use the term “Taco Tuesday” without risking legal trouble. That’s because Taco John’s, a Wyoming-based chain with about 400 locations in 23 states, trademarked the phrase in 1989. Since then, Taco John’s has been enforcing its trademark rights and sending cease-and-desist letters to other restaurants that use the phrase.

Why is Taco Bell fighting for Taco Tuesday?

Taco Bell, the largest taco chain in the US with more than 7,200 locations, is not happy with Taco John’s monopoly over Taco Tuesday. On May 16, 2023, Taco Bell filed a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) asking for the cancellation of Taco John’s trademark registration. Taco Bell also filed another petition against Gregory Hotel, Inc., which holds a trademark for the phrase in New Jersey.

Taco Bell argues that “Taco Tuesday” is a generic and descriptive term that should not be owned by anyone. It says that the phrase was already in use before Taco John’s registered it, and that it has become a common expression that consumers associate with tacos in general, not with any specific source or quality.

Taco Bell also claims that it is fighting for the public interest and the freedom of speech. It says that it wants to “liberate” the trademark so that “Taco Tuesday” belongs to “all who make, sell, eat and celebrate tacos” without fear of legal action. It also says that canceling the trademark would promote innovation and competition in the taco industry.

How did Taco John’s respond to Taco Bell?

Taco John’s did not appreciate Taco Bell’s challenge to its trademark. In a statement, Taco John’s CEO Jim Creel said that he was proud of his company’s ownership of “Taco Tuesday” and that he would not let a “big, bad bully” take it away.

Creel also said that he was not interested in “living más” if it meant filling the pockets of Taco Bell’s lawyers. He said that he preferred to focus on serving quality tacos to his loyal customers.

As a response to Taco Bell’s petition, Taco John’s launched a two-week long promotion offering two tacos for $2 on Tuesdays.

What will happen next?

The USPTO will review Taco Bell’s petitions and decide whether to cancel or uphold Taco John’s trademark registration. The process could take months or even years, depending on the complexity of the case and the evidence presented by both parties.

In the meantime, taco fans can enjoy their favorite dish on any day of the week, but they should be careful about how they call it. Unless they are eating at Taco John’s or Gregory Hotel, they might want to avoid using the phrase “Taco Tuesday” and opt for something more generic like “Taco Day” or “Taco Time”.

What do you think about this taco trademark dispute? Do you agree with Taco Bell or Taco John’s? Let us know in the comments below!

And don’t forget to share this blog post with your friends and family who love tacos!

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References:

Taco John’s TACO TUESDAY registration

CBS News article: Taco Bell is challenging rival chain’s “Taco Tuesday” trademark

Taco John’s 2 Tacos for $2 Response

Taco Bell’s news announcement