Taco Tuesday Is Legally Trademarked But This Is Why That Doesn’t Really Mean Anything
If you go out on a Tuesday, it’s pretty common to see signs at various establishments that say “Taco Tuesday.” You’ll also so see “Wine Wednesday,” “Thirsty Thursday,” “Friday Funday,” etc. These are what you call familiar catchphrases, which means they’re used all the time, by people all over the world. If you ask who invented these standard terms, you’d probably say that God did, or that they’ve just existed forever. Well, that mentality perhaps might be correct, but in this great country of weird laws, it doesn’t matter who invented something but rather who puts their claim on it by trademarking it first.
A taco chain restaurant called Taco John’s — based in Cheyenne, Wyoming — trademarked the term “Taco Tuesday” in 1989, and is sick of people using the phrase.
According to the Associated Press, Taco John’s has 400 locations in 23 states. The phrase “Taco Tuesday” is only legal for them to use in all states except in New Jersey, where someone there also trademarked the phrase before them. Guess we will never who actually coined the term int he first place.
But the real issue here is how it can be possible for any one establishment, especially independent ones, to stop using the term that is as common as “happy birthday.”
For years, Taco John’s has been sending cease-and-desist letters to several eateries for their illegal use of “Taco Tuesday.” Most recently they targeted a brewery that doesn’t even profit from the sale of tacos.
Freedom’s Edge Brewing Co., located near the Taco John’s headquarters, was advertising a “taco truck that parks outside its establishment once a week,” and used the “Taco Tuesday” catchphrase. Taco John’s clearly saw it and was pissed because they sent Freedom’s Edge a cease-and-desist letter to stop advertising by using “Taco Tuesday.”
“We have nothing against Taco John’s but do find it comical that some person in their corporate office would choose to send a cease and desist to a brewery that doesn’t sell or profit from the sales of tacos,” the brewery said in a statement, according to the AP. They also said they had no idea that “Taco Tuesday” was trademarked. Hey, we didn’t either.
People on social media say Taco John’s have taken their trademark of “Taco Tuesday” too far.
Antone Duran said on Facebook that Taco John’s is going after the wrong people and said the term is so common it’s unfair to target an independent establishment.
“I’ve traveled 34 states and throughout the country, I’ve heard or read “taco Tuesday” at restaurants and bars,” Duran said. “Even where I live now in Palm Springs. And I guarantee most of those places never even heard of taco John’s. So perhaps they were quick to trademark it, but they sure as hell didn’t invent it. And I guarantee they’re not going after hundreds of other restaurants throughout the country to demanding they stop. Lol. Petty for them to go after this place.”
Legal experts say that Taco John’s, unfortunately (or fortunately for the rest of us) doesn’t stand much of a chance in the court system to legally demand places stop using “Taco Tuesday.”
Seattle-based attorney Michael Atkins told the AP the catchphrase is used so commonly that it’s almost impossible to go after each entity that uses it. “Taco Tuesday” has been used everywhere from small signages at the corner shop to commercials to movies.
“It’s kind of asinine to me think that one particular taco seller, or taco maker, would have monopoly rights over ‘Taco Tuesday,'” Atkins told the publication. “It has become such a common phrase that it no longer points to Taco John’s and therefore Taco John’s doesn’t have the right to tell anybody to stop using that.”
In some ways, we kind of feel bad for Taco John’s. They went all-in on a phrase that ended up being super popular, and now they can’t even make a profit on it. On the other hand, they’re an established restaurant making millions off of Mexican food. They’ll survive.