Well, well, the “Taco Tuesday” battle appears to be heating up quickly. After years of holding and policing its trademark for “Taco Tuesday,” chain Taco John’s has found itself in a battle with Taco Bell, which is petitioning the trademark office to rescind its rival’s mark due to it becoming generic. I noted in that last battle that NBA mega-star LeBron James, himself apparently a huge fan on social media of celebrating taco Tuesdays, attempted to get a trademark for the phrase for himself. When that was denied, part of the reason the USPTO gave was that the term was too generic to be trademarked. Had LeBron wanted to press the issue, he could have used that as a weapon to push the Trademark Office to rescind Taco John’s mark.
But he didn’t do that. And now Taco Bell has picked up the battle itself, petitioning the USPTO to remove the trademark. But that’s not all Taco Bell is doing. Instead, the company has teamed up with LeBron to take this fight to the public with a commercial that first aired during the Lakers/Nuggets playoff game on May 22nd.
“’Taco Tuesday’ is a tradition that everyone should be able to celebrate. All restaurants, all families, all businesses – everybody,” LeBron James said in a press release. “’Taco Tuesdays’ create opportunities that bring people together in so many ways, and it’s a celebration that nobody should own.”
According to the press release, James is also starring in a new ad titled “Taco Bleep” as part of the attempt to liberate “Taco Tuesday,” so be sure to look out for that campaign on your TV set beginning May 22.
And here is the commercial in all its goofy glory.
Is a Change.org petition going to push the USPTO over the edge when it comes to its decision? Probably not directly, no. But what Taco Bell is doing, which is quite savvy, is building a public campaign, which could result in pressure not so much on the USPTO, but on Taco John’s itself. Employing a big name like LeBron who ultimately just wants to have fun with taco Tuesdays and leading the public to understand that it’s Taco John’s that is the barrier to everyone being able to use the generic phrase could build enough public shaming to get Taco John’s to reverse course on its own.
Or it won’t and the Taco Tuesday wars will continue. But if there is enough public outcry over this trademark that shouldn’t be a trademark, well, I expect that would make a difference.
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