Restaurant forfeits Taco Tuesday Trademark
After a long legal battle, Taco John and Gregory Hotel, Inc., have both forfeited their trademark rights to the phrase “Taco Tuesday.” After owning the trademark for Taco Tuesday for over 40 years, as a result of drawn out litigation from Taco Bell both have forfeited their trademark rights to the popular phrase.
In 2019, Taco Bell filed a petition with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to cancel both Taco John’s and Gregory’s trademark for Taco Tuesday. Taco John’s held the trademark since 1989 in all U.S. States except New Jersey and in July, they relinquished their trademark rights, claiming they were “lovers, not fighters.” Taco Bell argued that the phrase “Taco Tuesday” was a generic term that could not be trademarked and should be free for everyone to use.
After Taco John’s relinquished, Gregory’s fought back, arguing that the restaurant had created and popularized the phrase “Taco Tuesday” and that it had a strong trademark in the term. However, in 2022, the USPTO ruled in Taco Bell’s favor. Gregory appealed the USPTO’s decision, but that case was settled in September 2023. As part of the settlement, Gregory’s agreed to forfeit its claim to the trademark for “Taco Tuesday.” The forfeiture of Taco John’s and Gregory’s trademark rights means that anyone can now use the phrase “Taco Tuesday” in their business. This is a victory for Taco Bell, which has been trying to make the phrase “Taco Tuesday” a generic term that anyone can use.
What does this mean for Restaurants?
The forfeiture of the trademark rights to “Taco Tuesday” has implications for other restaurants that use the phrase. While the USPTO’s ruling only applies to New Jersey, it could set a precedent for other states. If other states follow New Jersey’s lead and rule that “Taco Tuesday” is a generic term, it will be difficult for any restaurant to trademark the phrase. Generic terms such as “pencil” are purly descriptive. They cannot be registered as trademarks because they are incapable of acting as a source idenfier. Everyone has the right to use generic words to describe the products they are selling. Also, giving trademark rights to purely descriptive, generic terms would in effect reduce the ability to use English words to describe goods and restrict competition.
What does this mean for Consumers?
The forfeiture of the trademark for “Taco Tuesday” is good news for consumers. It means that consumers will have more choices for taco deals on Tuesday nights. In addition, the increased competition could lead to lower prices for tacos on Tuesdays. Consumers may also see more restaurants offering special promotions on Tuesdays to attract customers.
While it seems like Taco Bell simply bullied over the competition to take away a trademarked phrase, the reality is that the term Taco Tuesday really hasn’t been capable of acting as a source idenfier for years. In common terms, everyone has heard of the phrase and few have ever recognized Gregory Hotel, Inc as the source. Overall, the forfeiture of the trademark for “Taco Tuesday” is a positive development for consumers. It will lead to more choices, lower prices, and better promotions for tacos on Tuesdays.