June 4, 2023

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Taco Bell declares a mission to free “Taco Tuesday” for all and asks U.S. regulators to force Wyoming-based Taco John’s to relinquish its longstanding claim to the trademark.

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

It’s the latest development in a long-running dispute over Taco Tuesday that even saw NBA star LeBron James make a failed attempt to claim the trademark in 2019.

“Taco Bell believes ‘Taco Tuesday’ is crucial to everyone’s Tuesday. To prevent someone from saying ‘Taco Tuesday’ – be it Taco Bell or someone who supplies tacos to the world – is like robbing the world of the sun itself,” the Taco Bell filing reads.

With more than 7,200 locations in the US and internationally, Taco Bell – a Yum! Brand chain along with Pizza Hut, KFC and The Habit Burger Grill – is much bigger than Cheyenne’s Taco John’s.

Started more than 50 years ago as a food truck, Taco John’s now has about 370 locations in 23 mostly Midwestern and Western states.

Taco John sign
Taco John’s has the trademark in 49 states, while a bar has the rights in New Jersey.

The chain’s relatively small size has not discouraged widespread enforcement of “Taco Tuesday” as a trademark, which dates back to the 1980s. In 2019, the company sent a letter to a brewery just five blocks from its headquarters, warning it to stop using “Taco Tuesday” to advertise a taco truck parked outside on Tuesdays.

Actively defending a trademark is key to preserving title to it, and the letter was just one example of Taco John’s telling restaurants far and wide that no one else should use “Taco Tuesday.”

Taco John’s responded to Taco Bell’s request by announcing a new two-week Taco Tuesday promotion featuring a large side of riposte.

“I want to thank our worthy competitors at Taco Bell for reminding everyone that Taco Tuesday is best celebrated at Taco John’s,” CEO Jim Creel said in an emailed statement. “We love celebrating Taco Tuesday with taco lovers everywhere, and we’d even like to extend a special invite to Taco Bell fans to free themselves by stopping by to see how flavorful and bold tacos can be at Taco John’s all month long.” are.”

Yet “Taco Tuesday” is so widely used and recognized today — as a generic way to promote tacos on a specific day of the week — that Taco John’s still can’t claim exclusive ownership, Taco Bell claims in its filing.

“’Taco Tuesday’ is a common expression. No one should have exclusive rights in an ordinary sense. Can you imagine if we weren’t allowed to say “what’s up” or “brunch?” Chaos,” reads the Taco Bell document, written with a touch of spicy marketing language.

The application is one of two from Taco Bell related to “Taco Tuesday.”

One contests Taco John’s claim to “Taco Tuesday” in 49 states, along with a similar filing challenging a New Jersey restaurant and bar’s claim to “Taco Tuesday” in that state. Both Taco John’s and Gregory’s Restaurant and Bar in Somers Point, New Jersey, have been using “Taco Tuesday” for over 40 years.

A Taco Bell order and drinks are at the first digital location in the US in Times Square in New York City, US April 14, 2021.
Too many companies and others refer to “Taco Tuesday” for Taco John’s to have exclusive rights to the phrase, Taco Bell claims in a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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

The Patent and Trademark Office approved the “Taco Tuesday” trademark in 1989.

And while Taco John’s is sending letters asking other companies not to use “Taco Tuesday,” the company has never had to go to court over the sentence, Creel said.

He also doesn’t feel too bullied by the much larger Taco Bell.

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