How Taco Bell Turned A Trademark Battle Into A Marketing Campaign

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In most cases, the pursuit of good vibes isn’t enough to overturn a trademark — but Taco Bell is certainly trying.

The popular fast-food chain set its sights on the term “Taco Tuesday” which it wants to use freely to promote sales happiness among taco lovers. There’s just one problem.

Though the phrase is frequently used in conversation, it’s actually a registered trademark owned by the Wyoming-based chain Taco John’s and has been since 1989.

On May 16, Taco Bell filed a petition with the USPTO requesting the reversal of the trademark, claiming the term is too common and widely used for Taco John’s to maintain the rights to it. Taco Bell claims the goal in this filing is to “liberate” the term for any and all restaurants to use freely.

It’s not the first time “Taco Tuesday” has been involved in trademark controversy.

In 2019 Lebron James attempted to trademark the term but was turned down by the PTO because it was too widely used. Naturally, James released a statement supporting Taco Bell’s efforts to overturn the trademark and is now starring in the company’s latest ad called “Taco Bleep.”

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Through the company’s statement, the public petition on, and the partnership with James, the liberation of “Taco Tuesday” feels more like a marketing campaign than a legal pursuit.

However, Taco John’s isn’t taking the challenge lying down. The company released a (hilariously petty) statement in response to Taco Bell announcing a new Tuesday special offering two tacos for $2.

In the statement, Taco John’s CEO Jim Creel says, “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’re anxiously awaiting the USPTO’s response to this taco saga…

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