Fast-food giant files twin petitions to cancel trademark registrations over phrase
U.S. fast-food chain Taco Bell has gone on a campaign to liberate “Taco Tuesdays”, filing two simultaneous petitions to cancel trademark registrations over the phrase last week. The phrase has been trademarked by the operator of Gregory’s Restaurant & Bar in New Jersey and of Taco John’s franchise in 49 other states.
“Taco Bell believes ‘Taco Tuesday’ is critical to everyone’s Tuesday,” the preface of both petitions state. “To deprive anyone of saying ‘Taco Tuesday’ – be it Taco Bell or anyone who provides tacos to the world – is like depriving the world of sunshine itself.”
Taco Bell did not seek damages or trademark rights to the phrase “Taco Tuesdays” itself but merely the right to use it, which it called a matter of “reason and common sense”.
Taco Bell argued that the phrase was generic, conveying “the ordinary and familiar concept … of consuming tacos and related products on Tuesdays.” Because of the widespread use of “Taco Tuesdays” and the “informational nature” of the phrase, Taco Bell argued that the term failed to function either as a mark for any particular restaurant service or as a source identifier for Taco John’s or Gregory’s.
Taco Bell also pointed out that in a recently commissioned survey, it found that 86% of consumers in the U.S. and 77% of consumers in New Jersey thought “Taco Tuesday” was a common name rather than one associated with a particular company.
Taco John’s chief marketing officer Barry Westrum told the Guardian that Taco John’s began using the term in the 70s, after running a successful marketing campaign in St. Paul, Minnesota which responded to the slow restaurant traffic on Sundays and Tuesdays with “Taco Twosdays” – two tacos for 99 cents.
Ten years later, the company got its trademark, the Guardian reported.
“To this day, Tuesdays are our bestselling days of the week,” Westrum said. “While Taco Tuesdays may have become part of the American lexicon, that doesn’t give our competition the right to take it from us.”