It is hard to imagine anyone on social media in 2019 who has not encountered the trendy phrase “Taco Tuesday.” Lebron James, for example, has posted videos on social media and tweeted “Taco Tuesday,” announcing his love for tacos. James even filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in mid-August to trademark the phrase.

Less than a month later, James’ application was rejected because Taco Tuesday is a “commonplace message” that is “used in everyday speech by different sources.” In its’ official rejection letter, the USPTO explained that the slogan is “used by a variety of sources” and “conveys an ordinary, familiar, well-recognized concept or sentiment.” The rejection letter includes examples of common uses in various newspaper articles and on restaurant websites. Although there are several examples included, there are thousands of more references elsewhere on the internet.

James’ attempted to trademark only the phrase in standard characters without claiming a particular styling, such as a particular font, size, or coloring. According to various sports news reports, James wanted to continue to use Taco Tuesday for entertainment and marketing purposes and to ensure that he could not be sued for use of the slogan. This was not only a savvy business move by James, but it also grabbed widespread media attention, making for good publicity.

Allegedly, Taco Tuesday originated in the 1980s when owners of the chain Taco John started running a taco deal on Tuesdays. Customers could get two tacos for 99 cents each on the original Taco John “Taco Twosday.” The owners of Taco John obtained a suggestive trademark in 1989 which came with weak protection. Because of the current mainstream popularity of the phrase and failure to adequately defend the phrase’s trademark, it now appears that the Taco John owners have lost their trademark for Taco Tuesday. Therefore, the mark is free for the public to use.

Julianne Campbell

Comments are closed.