Taco Bell is fighting to de-brand “Taco Tuesday”

New York (CNN) Taco Bell wants to free the “Taco Tuesday” brand from a smaller competing chain.

The taco chain filed a petition on Tuesday (naturally) with the US Patent and Trademark Office to revoke the trademark, which has been owned by Taco rival Jones for 34 years, because Taco Bell claims the commonly used phrase “should be freely available to all who make and sell.” Eat and celebrate tacos.”

Because Taco John’s owns the trademark, restaurants and other businesses must request permission to use “Taco Tuesday” in branding and advertising.

Use of the phrase “potentially exposes Taco Bell and anyone else who wants to share their tacos with the world to the possibility of legal action or angry messaging if they say “Taco Tuesday” without the express permission of [Taco John’s] — just for the pursuit of happiness on Tuesday.”

Taco Bell added that “no person should have exclusive rights to a catchphrase.”

Maggie Mettler, director of legal affairs for parent company Taco Bell, Yum! Trademarks (Yum)However, according to CNN it is using trademark law to “redress this injustice”.

“It’s a bold brand action that we hope others will want to support,” said Mittler.

Although Taco Bell’s business seems deceptive, the company says it’s serious. And it may have a strong argument, since “Taco Tuesday” has become a commonly used phrase, according to Trademark Attorney Josh Gerben.

phrase history

Taco owner John coined “Taco Today” in the early 1980s to boost sales with a 99-cent deal to buy two tacos on the slowest day of the week. It worked, and sales at the restaurant turned around so much that the owner shared it with other franchisees.

The name was modified to “Taco Tuesday” and the chain trademarked the phrase in 1989, making it part of its marketing. Taco John has since defended his use of the phrase and has sent cease and desist letters to others attempting to use it.

“Over the years we’ve certainly asserted our brand against national corporations, restaurants big and small, and even drug companies,” said Billie Jo Waara, Taco John’s former marketing director, in a 2016 interview. We also understand that unauthorized use [of Taco Tuesday] Prolific, we do our best to convey ownership.”

“Taco Bell has not reached out to us, so we have no comment on any potential trademark action,” Taco Jones said in a statement. “Taco John’s would like to thank our worthy competitors at Taco Bell for reminding everyone that ‘Taco Tuesday’ is best celebrated at Taco John’s – the trademark owner of Taco Tuesday.”

In response, Taco John’s is selling a $2-a-day “Taco Tuesday” deal through May 31.

What now?

Taco Bell submits the petition to the Trademark Appeals and Trial Board, which is part of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and it can take two years before a decision is issued.

Taco John’s has 40 days to file a response, and if the two chains don’t reach an agreement, the case will move into a discovery period in which each company can file document requests and provide evidence clarifying their case. After that, oral arguments and trials will be presented before the judges of the Council.

according to Try itTaco Bell has a “strong case” because US trademark law “prevents registration of phrases or catchphrases that become commonplace after a registration is granted.”

In this case, the logo became “a cultural phenomenon with a long history of use by individuals and companies other than the current owner of the trademark,” he told CNN.

Gerbin said that although Taco John invented the phrase, that may not be a strong enough defense. He added that the phrase “Taco Tuesday” is “widely used by Americans in a way that has nothing to do with the defendant’s restaurant.”

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