The phrase Taco Tuesday will now be available to most after restaurant chain Taco John’s abandoned its claim to the phrase in a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office filing Tuesday.
Prior to this filing, Taco John’s had been litigious in getting other businesses to stop using the phrase for promotions, having acquired the trademark for its current iteration in 1989.
In May, rival restaurant chain Taco Bell filed a petition to the USPTO to void the trademark, aiming to “liberate” Taco Tuesday. The fast food brand even created commercials with National Basketball Association superstar LeBron James calling for the end to the trademark.
“We’ve always prided ourselves on being the home of Taco Tuesday, but paying millions of dollars to lawyers to defend our mark just doesn’t feel like the right thing to do,” Taco John’s CEO Jim Creel said in a statement.
In lieu of the legal battle, Taco John’s will be giving $100 in the name of each of its 400 locations to the Children of Restaurant Employees charity and challenged Taco Bell to do the same for its 7,200 stores. Taco John’s also called on Mr. James to donate his earnings from the spot he cut for Taco Bell.
“We are incredibly grateful to everyone at Taco John’s for making this generous donation to CORE, which will benefit so many restaurant families in their darkest hours,” the charity’s executive director, Sheila Bennett, told Nation’s Restaurant News.
Gregory’s Restaurant & Bar in Somers Point, New Jersey, owns the Taco Tuesday trademark in that state. That predates its use in the rest of the country by Taco John’s, with the two entities having split the geographical rights to the phrase in the 1990s.
Gregory’s plans to hold out on its control of Taco Tuesday in New Jersey, acknowledging that taking on Yum! Brands imprint Taco Bell will be an uphill battle.
“We’re hanging in there. We’re sticking to our guns. Clearly it’s David and Goliath. I mean, certainly they bring a lot more resources to the table than we do. But we’re willing to scrap as much as we need to,” Stephen Altamuro, an attorney for the New Jersey restaurant, told The Associated Press.