Taco John’s Relinquishes “Taco Tuesday” Trademark

In a notable turn of events, the Taco John’s franchise has chosen not to uphold its trademark for the term “Taco Tuesday,” as reported by The Wall Street Journal, fittingly published on a Tuesday.

The dispute arose when Taco Bell, a part of the Yum! Brands restaurant portfolio, petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in May to cancel the trademark, asserting that “Taco Tuesday” is a generic phrase and should be accessible for any taco vendor to use legally.

Taco John’s CEO, Jim Creel, stated that defending the trademark could cost around $1 million, a price deemed too steep for the company with nearly 400 restaurants across 20-plus states. Instead, they decided to redirect the funds towards a charitable cause, with a $40,000 donation to Children of Restaurant Employees, a nonprofit supporting restaurant industry workers with children. Creel expressed his hope for Taco Bell to also contribute to the organization.

Taco Bell cleverly utilized the “Taco Tuesday” dispute in their marketing campaign, featuring NBA superstar LeBron James advocating for the liberation of Taco Tuesday. Interestingly, James had attempted to trademark the term in 2019, but the trademark office rejected it, considering it a common phrase.

Since 1989, Taco John’s held the Taco Tuesday trademark in every state except New Jersey. The trademark for the Garden State is owned by Gregory’s Restaurant & Bar in Somers Point, N.J. Taco Bell had also filed a petition in May to end Gregory’s trademark, prompting the owners to announce their intent to defend their trademark in June.

Reluctantly, Creel shared that Taco John’s conceded the trademark battle. He expressed mixed emotions, calling it a sad day for the company, its franchisees, and many customers. Nonetheless, he emphasized that Taco Tuesday will continue for Taco John’s and others, despite the trademark resolution. Previously, Taco John’s had sent cease-and-desist letters to restaurants using “Taco Tuesday” without authorization.

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