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Taco Bell is challenging rival chain's "Taco Tuesday" trademark

The phrase "Taco Tuesday" is being held hostage by a fast-food chain from Wyoming, but "it should belong to everyone," attorneys representing Taco Bell claim in a petition filed Tuesday with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Taco Bell is urging the agency to cancel the trademark over the term currently owned by fast-casual rival Taco John's, so that it is "freely available to all who make, sell, eat and celebrate tacos," Taco Bell argued. 

"Taco Bell seeks no damages or trademark rights in Taco Tuesday," the company said in its petition. "It simply seeks common sense for usage of a common term. In filing the legal petitions, Taco Bell is honoring people's right to come together and celebrate the joys of tacos, on Tuesdays and every other day."

The multinational chain also filed a petition on Tuesday to cancel a second trademark owned by Gregory Hotel, the parent company of Gregory's Restaurant and Bar in New Jersey. Gregory's has been the holder of the "Taco Tuesday" trademark in the state of New Jersey since 1979, according to its website. Gregory's did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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Everyone loves "Taco Tuesday"

Restaurants have used the phrase "Taco Tuesday" as a marketing gimmick to attract customers. NBA superstar LeBron James tried to trademark Taco Tuesday in 2019 but the USPTO denied his motion, arguing the phrase is "commonly used in everyday speech," the New York Times reported.  

The driving force behind Taco Tuesday is for people to "come together every week to celebrate something as simple, yet culturally phenomenal, as the taco," Taco Bell said in its petition. 

"How can anyone 'Live Más' if they're not allowed to freely say 'Taco Tuesday?' It's pure chaos," said the fast food chain, which is owned by Yum Brands. 

Taco Bell operates more than 450 corporate locations across the U.S. and has more than 6,600 franchises nationwide. The chain has sold tacos in its restaurants for almost 60 years. 

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Taco John's CEO Jim Creel said in a statement Tuesday that his company doesn't want to fight with Taco Bell, "but when a big, bad bully threatens to take away the mark our forefathers originated so many decades ago, well, that just rings hollow to us."

"If 'Living Más' means filling the pockets of Taco Bell's army of lawyers, we're not interested," he added. 

Founded in 1969 in Cheyenne, Taco John's has almost 400 restaurants across 23 states. The Patent and Trademark Office approved its "Taco Tuesday" trademark in 1989. The company sends out letters asking other businesses not to use "Taco Tuesday," but has never had to go to court over the phrase, Creel told the Associated Press in an interview. 

Taco John's also has trademarks on the phrases "Taco Bravo," "Softshell Saturday," "Wake up Wednesday," "Mexi Rolls" and "Nachos Navidad."

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