Taco Bell says it wants to “liberate” the phrase “Taco Tuesday,” which, believe it or not, has been trademarked by a smaller taco chain for more than 30 years.
Taco Bell filed a petition Tuesday — yes, Taco Tuesday — with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office seeking an end to the trademark, arguing that “Taco Tuesday” is in common usage and should be available to all.
“Taco Bell believes ’Taco Tuesday’ should belong to all who make, sell, eat and celebrate tacos,” the chain said in a statement.
“Taco Bell seeks no damages or trademark rights in ‘Taco Tuesday,'” it said. “It simply seeks common sense for usage of a common term.”
Trademark lawyers say Taco Bell might have a strong case.
There’s a carve-out in trademark law that allows for trademarks to be canceled if the trademarked word or phrase enters common usage.
In this case, a smaller taco chain called Taco John’s trademarked “Taco Tuesday” 34 years ago, meaning no one else can use the phrase for commercial or marketing purposes.
“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,” Taco Bell said, bravely jumping the shark in making its case.
“How can anyone Live Más if they’re not allowed to freely say ‘Taco Tuesday?’ It’s pure chaos.”
Chaos notwithstanding, Taco John’s seems ready to defend its trademark.
“I’d like to thank our worthy competitors at Taco Bell for reminding everyone that Taco Tuesday is best celebrated at Taco John’s,” Taco John’s CEO Jim Creel said in a statement.
“When it comes right down to it, we’re lovers, not fighters, at Taco John’s,” he said. “But when a big, bad bully threatens to take away the mark our forefathers originated so many decades ago, well, that just rings hollow to us.”
Even so, Taco John’s may have a difficult time arguing that hardly anyone uses the phrase “Taco Tuesday.” In Southern California, every Tuesday is Taco Tuesday.
Taco Bell is owned by Yum Brands, which pocketed more than a billion dollars in profit last year.
It’s not unreasonable to expect some dinero to change hands to resolve all this.