The war over the use of “Taco Tuesday” is over after two months of debate.
Taco John’s, which has owned the trademark since 1989, announced Tuesday that it will abandon its registration. In conjunction with the move, the fast casual is pledging a donation of $100 per location to nonprofit Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE), which amounts to $40,000 in total.
Taco John’s has the trademark in 49 out of 50 states. Gregory’s Restaurant & Bar controls it in New Jersey.
The brand is challenging Taco Bell—who filed a petition to remove the trademark in May—to donate funds. Taco John’s is also asking NBA star LeBron James to send money toward CORE after he joined forces with Taco Bell through an ad campaign.
“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,” Taco John’s CEO Jim Creel said in a statement. “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 Taco Bell’s petition, it claimed “Taco Tuesday” is a generic term and has become too commonplace. To bolster its efforts, the Mexican giant used James in an ad titled “Taco Bleep” to highlight what it called “the absurdity of ‘Taco Tuesday’ being trademarked” and also encourage “the taco community to join together in support of the liberation movement.” Taco John’s responded in a filing, stating it “has the right to enforce its trademark rights against infringers and those who want to infringe, including Taco Bell.”
Elizabeth Baio, a partner at global law firm Nixon Peabody, told QSR that the case would’ve taken two years at the earliest.
Nationally speaking, the case is over and money is going to a greater cause.
“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,” Sheila Bennett, executive director of CORE, said in a statement. “And we welcome the support of other brands that are looking forward to celebrating Taco Tuesday, because the need is great. In fact, this year alone, 75 percent of grantees are single parents, mostly moms.”