Taco Bell files petition to cancel trademark for 'Taco Tuesday'

There’s a phrase that’s not supposed to be uttered at Taco Bell, or any other Mexican restaurant in New York City without possible legal consequences. It’s not an insult, it's two words: Taco Tuesday.

As much as New Yorkers like their tacos, the two words cannot be said because it is trademarked by a fast food chain that's a rival of Taco Bell called Taco John's.

On Tuesday, Taco Bell filed a petition to have the U.S. Trademark Office cancel the trademarks for "Taco Tuesday."

Taco Bell argues the phrase has become way too common for anyone to claim ownership of it and wants "Taco Tuesday" to be free for anyone to use, and not just them. 

"Taco Bell believes 'Taco Tuesday' should belong to all who make, sell, eat and celebrate tacos. In fact, the very essence of 'Taco Tuesday' is to celebrate the commonality amongst people of all walks of life who come together every week to celebrate something as simple, yet culturally phenomenal, as the taco. How can anyone Live Más if they’re not allowed to freely say 'Taco Tuesday?' It’s pure chaos," the fast food franchise said in a statement to FOX 5 New York. 

Taco John's is the primary holder of the "Taco Tuesday" phrase. The chain has about 400 fast food restaurants across the country, none of them in New York. Still, they have held the federal trademark since 1989.

And Gregory’s Restaurant and Bar in Somers Point, New Jersey, said it’s held the trademark in the Garden State since 1982. Others who want to use it have to get permission.

Intellectual property and trademark attorney, Robert Griener said this is not a clear-cut case. 

"Taco John's seems to be very, very litigious and they're very much on top of protecting their trademark. So, it's going to be an interesting call for the court to decide whether or not this is actually entered into the public domain and has become generic," Griender said. 

"I’d like to thank our worthy competitors at Taco Bell for reminding everyone that Taco Tuesday is best celebrated at Taco John’s," Taco John's CEO Jim Creel told FOX 5. 

"When it comes right down to it, we’re lovers, not fighters, at Taco John’s. 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.  

The clock will move slowly on this case as petitions with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office can take years to be decided.