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Fast Food Feud: Taco Tuesday Trademark War Erupts Anew

by Joshua Brown
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Taco Bell thinks it’s unfair that only Taco John’s can use the phrase “Taco Tuesday”, so they are asking to change it so everyone can use it. Taco Bell is sending a letter to U.S. regulators on Tuesday (which is funny!) and tell them that lots of people already say “Taco Tuesday”, not just Taco John’s.

Lots of people have been arguing for a long time about who owns the title “Taco Tuesday”. Even basketball star LeBron James tried to get the rights to it in 2019 but failed.

Taco Bell is now saying that it’s very important to everyone’s Tuesday and not allowing anyone to say “Taco Tuesday” – no matter if it be Taco Bell or other taco vendors – would be like taking away the sunshine from the world.

Do people still think of “Taco Tuesday” as being owned by a particular brand or company? That’s what Emily Poler, an attorney in New York specializing in trademark law, wants to know. Genericide is when a word or phrase becomes so common that it no longer belongs to the owner of the trademark. Just like how “cellophane,” “escalator”, and “trampoline” don’t stand for any one company anymore.

Put simply, you can’t get a trademark for something that’s too generic. This means that it doesn’t have any special connection with any particular source or product. For example, in 2019 James (who loves tacos!) experienced this when he tried to register “Taco Tuesday” with the Patent and Trademark Office. But they decided it was too common of a phrase to be considered as a trademark.

Taco Bell has a lot more locations than Taco John’s. Taco Bell is part of Yum! Brands, which also includes Pizza Hut, KFC and The Habit Burger Grill. It started as a food truck over 50 years ago and now there are about 370 locations in mainly the Midwest and West.

Taco John’s restaurant, even though it is very small, still makes sure that nobody messes with its phrase “Taco Tuesday”. In 2019, the company sent a warning letter to a brewery nearby its headquarters because they were using the phrase “Taco Tuesday” to promote a taco truck outside their building.

Taco John’s recently sent a letter to many restaurants asking them not to have Taco Tuesdays – this was done in order to “defend” their trademark. After this, Taco Bell filed something related to the issue and then Taco John’s responded by launching a two-week promotion for Taco Tuesdays.

“Our CEO Jim Creel said in an emailed statement that the team at Taco John’s appreciates our rivals, Taco Bell, for reminding us all about what a great day Tuesday can be. We want to let everyone know that at Taco John’s we like to ‘celebrate’ Taco Tuesday with terrific tacos. So, we invite all the Taco Bell fans out there to experience different kind of authentic taco flavor from Taco John’s wherever you are this month!”

Taco Bell has filed two lawsuits against other companies who have been using the phrase ‘Taco Tuesday.’ One is against Taco John’s, who had been using it in 49 states, and the other is against Gregory’s Restaurant and Bar in Somers Point, New Jersey. Both Taco John’s and Gregory’s have been using “Taco Tuesday” for more than 40 years.

A restaurant chain, called Taco John’s, invented a deal called “Taco Twosday” in Minnesota. In this deal, customers can buy two tacos for only 99 cents on a slow day of the week. Additionally, the Patent and Trademark Office approved the Taco John’s right to call it “Taco Tuesday”. Despite this, Taco Bell has also been using it and Creel from Taco John’s is not mad at all as it seems like they have noticed their invention.

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