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The battle for the trademark “Taco Tuesday” is coming to an end.
Taco John̵[ads1]7;s, the regional chain that has the “Taco Tuesday” trademark, announced Tuesday that it is ending its fight to defend the phrase and will “abandon” it because it does not want to pay the legal fees that come with a fight against Taco Bell.
“We’ve always been proud to be the home of Taco Tuesday, but paying millions of dollars to lawyers to defend our brand just doesn’t feel like the right thing to do,” Taco John’s CEO Jim Creel said in a statement
Taco Bell filed a petition in May with the US Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the trademark owned by rival Taco John’s for 34 years because Taco Bell claims the oft-used phrase “should be freely available to anyone who makes, sells, eats and celebrates tacos.”
As a result of the trademark being abandoned, Creel said it is donating $40,000 ($100 per its roughly 400 locations) to Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE).
CORE is a nonprofit organization that “supports restaurant workers with children by providing financial relief when either the employee, spouse or child faces a life-changing health crisis, injury, death or natural disaster,” Taco John’s explained in a statement.
Taco Bell did not immediately respond for comment.
Taco John’s has owned the trademark in every state except New Jersey since 1989. It has used the term for marketing purposes and has defended its use of the term, sending cease-and-desist letters to others who try to use it.
But Taco Bell took issue with it, saying that “no one should have exclusive rights to a common phrase” and that any restaurant should be able to use it.
Trademark attorney Josh Gerben told CNN that Taco John’s decision is “not surprising” because “the phrase became ubiquitous in the marketplace and any attempt to enforce the trademark registration would likely have failed in court.”
“Therefore, the trademark registration had little, if any, value left at this point,” he said. “Had the case been litigated to the end, Taco John’s could have suffered a significant PR loss. By bowing out of the legal battle at this point, given the low probability of winning, Taco John’s can work to control the court of public opinion surrounding the case.”