Taco Bell — infamously known for their late-night hours and cheesy goodness, has recently filed a petition with the US Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the trademark “Taco Tuesday,” used by their rival chain company Taco John’s for the last 34 years. The hope from Taco Bell is that “Taco Tuesday,” can be shared, as it is a commonly used phrase that “should be freely available to all who make, sell, eat and celebrate tacos.”

According to the filing, usage of “Taco Tuesday” “potentially subjects Taco Bell and anyone else who wants to share tacos with the world to the possibility of legal action or angry letters if they say, ‘Taco Tuesday’ without express permission from [Taco John’s] — simply for pursuing happiness on a Tuesday.”  Taco John’s chief marketing officer, Barry Westrum, said that the restaurant’s app has seen a 25% increase in downloads since Taco Bell filed the petition. So far, Taco John’s has no plans to liberate the phrase. Instead, they are using the sudden burst of popularity to tell the story of Taco John’s and how it came to be. Taco John’s is using this negative experience to better promote their chain. In just one week, the chain company has seen over 1 billion media impressions, an increase in store-growth, and app traffic.

Aside from calling Taco Bell a “bully,” the CFO of Taco John’s thanked their rival company for “reminding America that Taco Tuesday is best spent at Taco John’s.” As far as this petition will go, both Taco Bell and Taco John’s are unsure, however; the CFO of Taco John’s has been adamant in keeping the slogan trademarked- just as it has been since 1989. Although Taco John’s coined the term “Taco Tuesday,” trademark attorney Josh Gerben says that might not be a strong enough defense to keep the term as a trademark.

Professional basketball player and celebrity Lebron James has teamed up with Taco Bell, stating “Taco Tuesday is a tradition that everyone should be able to celebrate. All restaurants, all families, all businesses – everybody… Taco Tuesdays create opportunities that bring people together in so many ways, and it’s a celebration that nobody should own.” James tried to trademark “Taco Tuesday,” in 2019 and was denied. Now, he is helping to make it a phrase that is no longer trademarked. Taco Bell is hoping that with the help of Lebron James, Americans will be able to see why this phrase should be free for all to use.

This is not the first instance Taco John’s has made an attempt to stop others from using the phrase. In 2019, the chain sent a letter to a brewery a mere five blocks away from Taco John’s, warning it to stop using “Taco Tuesday” as a phrase for advertisement.

Taco Bell has repeatedly stated that “nobody should have exclusive rights in a common phrase.” Gerben has stated that Taco Bell may have a very strong case due to the popularity of the phrase. The petition has been filed with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which is a part of the US Patent and Trademark Office. It can take at least two years before a decision is made.

The “Taco Tuesday” case has made it onto Taco Bell’s Tik Tok, which is picking up a lot of traction and support for Taco Bell. Lebron James and a lawyer are seen on Taco Bell’s Tik Tok account, hyping up the idea of “Taco Tuesday” being free to use. Many of the comments are supportive of liberating the term. Taco Bell lovers and taco lovers alike are hoping that both small and big businesses will be able to use this phrase. One comment read “I’m with Taco Bell on this. So many small businesses use this. It is commonly used!” Many have shared this same sentiment.

It appears Taco Bell is not giving up on this fight, and Taco John’s remains unintimidated by the larger companies’ petition. If you’ve got beef with trademark competition, Ed White Law can help. Shoot us an email if you’ve got something to taco ‘bout.