Taco John's Claims Rights in Taco Tuesday
The “Taco Tuesday” battle exploded on Twitter, blogs, NewsOK, Fox 25 News, and even Facebook. Taco John’s owns U.S. Trademark Registration No. 1,572,589 for the mark TACO TUESDAY (seen below). It appears that Taco John’s attorneys sent the Oklahoma City based Iguana Mexican Grill a letter notifying Iguana of Taco John’s alleged rights and registration. Taco John’s also ordered Iguana to cease and desist usage of the hashtag #tacotuesday.
What started as an attempt by Taco John’s to assert its trademark rights, resulted in some fantastic PR for Iguana Grill. For those of you that are not from Oklahoma, you should know that as Oklahomans, we stick together. Iguana Grill has generously invested time and money into the community through volunteerism and food donations. The Oklahoma City community is extremely loyal to Iguana and when everyone caught wind of Taco John’s requests, a frenzy of tweets ensued. The community rallied around Iguana by voicing their support for the usage of “Taco Tuesday” on Twitter and Facebook. Fans also showed their support by gathering at Iguana. Iguana sold a record number of tacos on Tuesday – approximately 2,000 tacos. Tuesday’s tweets included things like:
- “petition @tacojohns to stop copyright enforcement of #tacotuesday hashtag”
- “#tacotuesday is used all over CA! But qdoba uses #tacomonday. Who want #tacowednesday...Patent pending”
- “Potential new @iguanaokc promotion: @TacoJohns Sucks Tuesday #tacotuesday (They don't have a patent on that one.)”
- “So does anyone know if ThirstyThursday has a copyright? If so, Who will hold a big party to celebrate the end? #tacotuesday”
- “Their trademark can't keep the customers from calling it #TacoTuesday”
@TacoJohns even tweeted:
“Taco John’s holds the copyright to Taco Tuesday giving us the exclusive right to use and protect it.”
So which one is it? What exactly is Taco John’s trying to assert? A patent? A copyright? A trademark? It seems that even @TacoJohns needs some guidance as to the differences between copyrights and trademarks. Taco John’s claim is centered around its alleged trademark, not copyright, for the phrase “Taco Tuesday.”
Generally speaking, patents protect inventions, copyrights protect creative works of authorship like music, photos, videos, and literary works, and trademarks protect brands. Taco John’s is alleging that Taco Tuesday is their brand name, that they have trademark rights in it, and that Iguana cannot use it without their permission. Are there legal arguments that could be made in response to Taco John’s? Sure. Does it matter that several other companies use the phrase “Taco Tuesday?” Possibly. But that is another post for another day.
For more information on the difference between patents, trademarks, and copyrights check out this PHOSITA blog post posted earlier last year.