Taco Tuesday Trademark Tiff Gets SpicyMay 26, 2023

Taco Bell recently launched an ad campaign featuring LeBron James and the censored phrase Taco T***day. In a commercial, Lebron repeatedly attempts to say the phrase “Taco Tuesday,” but the “Tuesday” is consistently bleeped out. He then helpfully explains that there’s a trademark on Taco Tuesday and therefore it cannot be used in a commercial, such as one for Taco Bell. LeBron then states “thankfully someone is doing something about it” while the statement TACO BELL WANTS TO FREE TACO T***DAY FOR ALL is shown on the screen. At the end of the commercial LeBron states “no more trademark, no more bleeping starting right now” and then he shouts the un-censored phrase Taco Tuesday with an emphasis on a long, drawn-out Tuuuueeeesssssday.

This cheeky add is part of a public relations campaign launched by Taco Bell in concert with a petition to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to cancel trademark registrations for Taco Tuesday owned by rival chain Taco John’s. Taco John’s registered the trademark in 1989 and has since defended its use of the phrase and asserted the trademark against other companies. Taco Bell asserts that Taco Tuesday is a common phrase that the public should be able to freely use without the possibility of legal action.

In response, Taco John’s rolled out a special Taco Tuesday deal of $2 for 2 tacos every day through May 31.

Taco John’s will also have a chance to respond to the petition seeking to cancel its registration. Generally, a trademark owner has 40 days to answer a petition for cancelation. Then, a discovery phase begins which may include document requests, document production, and depositions. If the parties have not reached an agreement, a trial will be held before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. The entire process can take 2-3 years.

Interestingly, in 2019 LeBron James attempted to register a trademark on Taco Tuesday which was denied by the USPTO. The USPTO refused the registration as a “commonplace term”.

Julie L. Spieker is an Intellectual Property Attorney in the MVS Biotechnology & Chemical Practice Group as well as the Mechanical and Electrical Practice Group. To learn more, visit our MVS website , or contact Julie directly via email.

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