The fierce quick-service battle over the Taco Tuesday trademark has come to an end, with the heavyweight seemingly emerging victorious. Taco Bell initially filed legal petitions in May to cancel the federal trademark registrations for “Taco Tuesday” via the USPTO Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, declaring the phrase should belong to “all who make, sell, eat and celebrate tacos.”
Notably, Taco John’s owned the Taco Tuesday registration in 49 states, while a “small business” called Gregory’s owns the trademark in New Jersey. Fast forward two months and Taco John’s announced today it is abandoning its registration for its servicemark on Taco Tuesday after more than 40 years.
“We’ve always prided ourselves on being the home of Taco Tuesday, but paying millions of dollars to lawyers to defend our mark just doesn’t feel like the right thing to do,” Taco John’s CEO Jim Creel said in a statement.
It’s one final jab from the much-smaller Taco John’s, which has called Taco Bell a “big, bad bully” for inciting this battle. That battle, by the way, reached a pitch in late May when Taco Bell recruited LeBron James’ support, while Jack in the Box also responded to what it called Taco Bell’s “hissy fit.”
Notably, while Taco John’s is abandoning its longtime trademark, the company experienced significant sales, traffic and loyalty signups from its tussle with Taco Bell. And now, the company is taking advantage of the headlines yet again to put a philanthropic call-to-action out to its competitors.
In addition to dropping its trademark, Taco John’s is also pledging a $100-per-location contribution to restaurant employees with children who are battling a health crisis, death or natural disaster. Taco John’s is also challenging its industry brethren with a $40,000 donation to the non-profit organization Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE), which supports restaurant workers with children by providing financial relief when either the employee, spouse or a child faces a life-altering health crisis, injury, death or natural disaster. And, the nearly 400-unit chain has also called on LeBRon James to donate “any fees he received from the latest multimillion-dollar Taco Bell Taco Tuesday ad campaign to CORE.”
“As we’ve said before, we’re lovers, not fighters, at Taco John’s,” Creel said. “Let’s see if our friends at Taco Bell are willing to ‘liberate’ themselves from their army of lawyers by giving back to restaurant families instead … We challenge them to match our $100-per-restaurant pledge – that’s about $720,000 – which is less than they’d have to spend in a legal battle for the mark. We also invite Del Taco, Taco Bueno, Taco Cabana, Jack in The Box and mom and pop taco shops across the country that intend to use Taco Tuesday in the future to join us in this movement to support working families and donate to CORE.”
In a statement, Sheila Bennett, executive director of CORE, said 75% of grantees this year are single parents, mostly moms.
“We are incredibly grateful to everyone at Taco John’s for making this generous donation to CORE, which will benefit so many restaurant families in their darkest hours,” Bennett said. “And we welcome the support of other brands that are looking forward to celebrating Taco Tuesday, because the need is great.”
While Taco John’s is dropping its trademark, the company will continue to host Taco Tuesday promotions, as well as a special $2 for two tacos every day through July through its mobile app.
Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]