« Taco Tuesday » now belongs to the world. Anyone can utter the phrase and, of course, anyone can celebrate it, and in today’s world (Happy Taco Tuesday?), any company outside of New Jersey can use the expression to advertise their tortilla-wrapped offerings. That’s because Taco John’s, a Wyoming-based fast food chain, dropped its legal claim to the phrase following a challenge brought by Taco Bell.
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The small brand said it would drop the service mark held by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, citing legal fees to fight the megachain.
« We’ve always been proud to be the home of Taco Tuesday, but paying millions of dollars to lawyers to protect our identity just didn’t feel right, » Taco John’s CEO Jim Creel said in a statement.
In a strange arrangement decades ago, Taco John’s owned the rights to the phrase in all states except New Jersey, where Gregory’s Restaurant is still revered. In May, Taco Bell filed two petitions with the Patent Office seeking to revoke those exclusive rights.
« Taco Bell believes ‘Taco Tuesday’ is important to everyone’s Tuesday, » the company said. Petition According to the US Patent and Trademark Office. « Losing anyone who says ‘Taco Tuesday’ — whether it’s Taco Bell or whoever provides the world with tacos — is like losing the world the sunshine. »
Taco John’s, which operates more than 370 restaurants nationwide, tried to turn the outcome of a potential legal battle into a public relations victory. The company announced that it will use the money it gave its attorneys on a charitable donation, giving $40,000 to the nonprofit. Children of restaurant workers, which supports workers and their families through health crises and natural disasters. Sighley, which uses the phrase « our litigants, » challenged Taco Bell and others to make similar gifts.
A Taco Bell representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The trick worked with fans praising the company on social media. “Sad to see Taco Bell win, but I love how classy you are about it. :-),” one person tweeted. « Taco John for the win! » wrote another.
Taco John’s also called out/humiliated NBA star LeBron James who appeared in Taco Bell commercials.
Some experts were skeptical that Taco John’s, which had previously defended the rights to the phrase, would ultimately win. Under the Trademark Act, Ubiquitous norms said Maggie Medler, legal director of Yum Brands, Taco Bell’s parent company. Terms like escalator, aspirin, and yo-yo became so common that their trademarks were canceled.
The phrase was born in 1979, when Taco John’s owner Dave Olsen found a way to boost business on a typically slow weekday in St. Paul, Minn. Since then, its use has spread, with cafes and other restaurants adopting it to advertise their offerings. The hashtag #TacoTuesday is trending on social media, and a search for the phrase on Etsy will turn up countless t-shirts, candles, and even neon signs.
Taco John’s said it will continue to offer its « Taco Tuesday » special, offering two tacos for $2, which will become a daily deal through the end of the month. « While the logo may be gone, Taco John’s will always be the home of Taco Tuesday to its fans across the country, » the statement said.