Taco Bell Goes After NJ Restaurant Over Ownership of ‘Taco Tuesday’ Phrase
It appears that a David vs. Goliath legal battle could be taking shape as Taco Bell is ready to challenge a New Jersey restaurant's ownership of a very popular phrase.
That phrase: "Taco Tuesday."
For many years now, Gregory's Bar in Somers Point has held the trademark on "Taco Tuesday," which means they are the only restaurant in all of New Jersey that can legally use that phrase (if you own a restaurant that uses "Taco Tuesday" now, you could find yourself in some trouble, whether you know it or not).
As it stands now, Gregory's own the phrase in New Jersey and another almost-national chain, Taco John's, owns it in the other 49 states. With that understanding, all has been well for years, especially since one restaurant isn't anywhere near the other.
But now, Taco Bell has launched a "liberation of Taco Tuesday" campaign and they are not holding back.
On Tuesday, they announced,
Tacos have the unique ability to bring people together and bring joy to their lives on an otherwise mediocre day of the week: Taco Tuesday. But since 1989, “Taco Tuesday” has been registered as a trademark, creating potential legal consequences for those that want to use the phrase. And that’s just not right.
Therefore, Taco Bell has filed legal petitions to cancel the federal trademark registrations for “Taco Tuesday” via the USPTO Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, today.
Their reasoning? "Taco Tuesday" is such a commonly used phrase now that everyone should be allowed to use it.
Wouldn't that be a great line to use in everyday life? Just imagine, "Everyone speeds on the Parkway, so we should just be allowed to!"
Is Taco Bell being a bully to get its way?
To get you on their side, Taco Bell is pulling out all of the stops. They have launched a "Freeing Taco Tuesday" petition on change.org (as of Tuesday morning, less than 300 people had signed it) and a Reddit AMA is scheduled for next Monday.
Taco John's responds
Taco John's CEO Jim Creel said in a statement,
I’d like to thank our worthy competitors at Taco Bell for reminding everyone that Taco Tuesday is best celebrated at Taco John’s. We love celebrating Taco Tuesday with taco lovers everywhere, and we even want to offer a special invitation to fans of Taco Bell to liberate themselves by coming by to see how flavorful and bold tacos can be at Taco John’s all month long.
And then there's Gregory's
While a fight between two big restaurant chains plays out, Gregory's becomes a very interesting player in a battle that could take years to decide.
On their website, Gregory's is very quick to point out,
We served our first tacos on a Tuesday night in February 1979. It's been history ever since. A friend from Texas helped us prepare the tacos and serve them. That night we coined the phrase TacoTuesday and created a mainstay for almost four decades. [I]n 1982, the US Patent office granted us the service trademark for TacoTuesday. Since that night in 1979 we have served over 2 million tacos (and counting!)
National Restaurant News says once their paperwork is processed, Taco Bell’s petitions will be available on the USPTO Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s website.
Editor's note: we have reached out to both Taco Bell and Gregory's for comments and will update this story should they respond.