Taco Bell is getting heated over trademark rights so the company can fully Live Más.
The phrase “Taco Tuesday” is widely used in a variety of manners, from local restaurant promotions to dinner parties. But it turns out one company actually owns the rights to print and use the phrase commercially. That honor goes to the Midwest-based fast-food chain Taco John’s, which has owned the trademark since 1989.
This means if Taco Bell wants to roll out a promotion, advertisement, or any sort of branding that says “Taco Tuesday,” they could face legal action from the rival taco chain if they do not ask explicit permission.
On (of course) Tuesday, Taco Bell officially filed a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office asking for the phrase “Taco Tuesday” to be “freely available to all who make, sell, eat and celebrate tacos.”
LLiberate Taco Tuesday Court FIling via Taco Bell
The brand even made a cheeky play at the new lawsuit on social media, posting the catchy phrase on Twitter.
feeling chaotic…taco tuesday.
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) May 16, 2023
The phrase originated at one Taco John’s restaurant as a part of a promotional deal where it would sell two tacos for 99 cents in order to increase revenues on Tuesdays, which were historically slow days for the company (originally spelled as ‘Taco Twosday’). It then expanded to other franchisees and was eventually trademarked.
“When it comes right down to it, we’re lovers, not fighters, at Taco John’s,” Taco John’s CEO Jim Creel told Entrepreneur via email. “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. If ‘living más’ means filling the pockets of Taco Bell’s army of lawyers, we’re not interested.”
Taco John’s has 40 days to respond to Taco Bell’s filing. The decision can take upwards of two years to be made.
“Taco Bell seeks no damages or trademark rights in ‘Taco Tuesday.’ It simply seeks common sense for usage of a common term,” Taco Bell said in a release regarding the legal documentation. “In filing the legal petitions, Taco Bell is honoring people’s right to come together and celebrate the joys of tacos, on Tuesdays and every other day.”
Yum! Brands was up 23.7% in a one-year period as of Tuesday afternoon.