The “Taco Tuesday” brand squabble between fast food rivals is breaking out again

Taco Bell has announced a mission to free up “Taco Tuesday” for everyone, and it’s asking U.S. regulators to force Wyoming-based Taco John’s to drop its longstanding trademark claim.

Too many companies and others refer to “Taco Tuesday” for Taco John’s to have the exclusive rights to the phrase, Taco Bell asserts in a US Patent and Trademark Office filing that, of course, is dated Tuesday.

It’s the latest twist on a long-running beef over taco Tuesday that even included NBA star LeBron James making an unsuccessful bid to claim the trademark in 2019.

“Taco Bell believes that ‘Taco Tuesday’ is paramount to everyone’s Tuesday. To deny anyone the ability to say ‘Taco Tuesday’ — whether it’s Taco Bell or someone serving tacos to the world — is like depriving the world of sunshine itself,” he added. It came in a Taco Bell file.

With over 7,200 locations in the US and internationally, Taco Bell – yum! The chain’s brands—along with Pizza Hut, KFC, and The Habit Burger Grill—are much larger than Cheyenne-based Taco Jones. Taco John’s started as a food truck over 50 years ago and now has about 370 locations in 23 states primarily in the Midwest and West.

The chain’s relatively small size hasn’t discouraged “Taco Tuesday” as a brand dating back to the 1980s. In 2019, the company sent a letter to a brewery just five blocks from its corporate headquarters, warning it to stop using “Taco Tuesday” to promote a taco truck parked outside on Tuesdays.

Effectively defending a trademark is key to maintaining a claim to it, and the letter was just one example of Taco John’s widely telling restaurants that no one else may use “Taco Tuesday.”

Taco John’s responded to Taco Bell’s filing by announcing a new two-week Taco Tuesday offer, with a big response side.

“I want to thank our worthy competitors at Taco Bell for reminding everyone that Taco Tuesday is the best at Taco Jones,” CEO Jim Creel said in an emailed statement. “We love celebrating Taco Tuesday with taco lovers everywhere, and we also wanted to extend a special invitation to Taco Bell fans to set themselves free by coming to see how delicious and bold tacos can be at Taco John all month long.”

However, “Taco Tuesday” has such widespread use and recognition these days—as a general way of promoting tacos on a specific day of the week—that Taco John’s still can’t claim exclusive ownership, as Taco Bell claims in the filing.

“Taco Tuesday” is a common phrase. No one should have exclusive rights to a catchphrase. Can you imagine if we weren’t allowed to say “what’s up” or “brunch?” “Mayhem,” as the Taco Bell document reads, written in its blood from spicy marketing language.

The recording is one of two Taco Bell includes “Taco Tuesday”. One contests Taco John’s claim of “Taco Tuesday” in 49 states, along with a similar file contesting a New Jersey restaurant and bar’s claim of “Taco Tuesday” in that state. Jones and Gregory’s Restaurant and Taco Bar in Somers Point, NJ, have been using “Taco Tuesday” for over 40 years.

A Taco John’s franchise in Minnesota came up with “Taco Tuesday” to promote two tacos for 99 cents on a slow day of the week, Krell told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday.

The Patent and Trademark Office approved the trademark “Taco Tuesday” 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 doesn’t get too bummed out, either, by the much larger Taco Bell.

“It’s okay. It’s kind of nice that they noticed that,” Creel said.

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