Taco Bell succeeded in its petition to remove the “Taco Tuesday” trademark held by Taco John’s, claiming it held an unfair monopoly over the phrase. Taco John’s CEO Jim Creel backed down from the fight on Tuesday, saying it isn’t worth the legal fees to retain the regional chain’s trademark.
“We’ve always prided ourselves on being the home of Taco Tuesday, but paying millions of dollars to lawyers to defend our mark just doesn’t feel like the right thing to do,” Taco John’s CEO Jim Creel said in a statement to CNN.
Taco John’s adopted the “Taco Tuesday” slogan back in the early 1980s as a two-for-one deal, labelling the promotion as “Taco Twosday” in an effort to ramp up sales. The company trademarked the term in 1989 and owned the right to the phrase in all states with the exception of New Jersey where Gregory’s Restaurant & Tavern beat out Taco John’s by trademarking the term in 1982.
Three decades later, Taco John’s finally received pushback when Taco Bell filed a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in May to cancel the trademark, saying any restaurant should be able to use “Taco Tuesday.”
“Taco Bell believes ‘Taco Tuesday’’ should belong to all who make, sell, eat, and celebrate tacos,” the company said in a May press release. “In fact, the very essence of ‘Taco Tuesday’ is to celebrate the commonality amongst people of all walks of life who come together every week to celebrate something as simple, yet culturally phenomenal, as the taco. How can anyone Live Más if they’re not allowed to freely say ‘Taco Tuesday?’ It’s pure chaos.”
So, yes, a giant taco corporation is celebrating the liberation of Taco Tuesday from the corporate clutches of a smaller taco corporation. A broken clock is right twice a day, etc.
Taco Bell went so far as to gain the support of NBA superstar Lebron James in an online marketing campaign to get people to sign the Freeing Taco Tuesday petition. The online petition argued: “EVERYONE should have the right to say “Taco T***day” on everyone’s favourite taco-day-of-the-week, without possibly getting sued.”
James supported the petition in a Taco Bell press release, saying, “‘Taco Tuesday’ is a tradition that everyone should be able to celebrate. All restaurants, all families, all businesses – everybody.” He added, “‘Taco Tuesdays’ create opportunities that bring people together in so many ways, and it’s a celebration that nobody should own.”
Taco John’s conceded just two months into the war. The cost to fight the legal battle could exceed $1 million, Creel told The Wall Street Journal, saying he would rather reallocate that money to those in need. “It’s just not worth the amount of money it would take to defend it,” Creel told the outlet. “We’d rather take that money and put it toward a good cause.”
Creel says Taco John’s is donating $US40,000 to the nonprofit group, Children of Restaurant Employees, which gives people who have children and are working in the food industry financial support. He has challenged Taco Bell to do the same.
“It’s a sad day for us and our franchisees and a lot of our customers,” Creel told The Wall Street Journal. “But at the same time, we will still have Taco Tuesday, and others will have Taco Tuesday as well.”
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