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Taco Bell and Taco John’s settle trademark dispute. ‘Taco Tuesday’ is now free for everyone to use

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The restaurant chain Taco John’s surrendered its “Taco Tuesday” trademark on Tuesday, appropriately enough, ending a battle between the company and its fast-food rival Taco Bell, which sought to free the famous phrase from the bonds of patent law.

The two companies squashed their beef over Taco Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal first reported, after Taco Bell filed a petition in May with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the trademark that Taco John’s has held since 1989.

“It’s just not worth the amount of money it would take to defend it,” Taco John’s Chief Executive Jim Creel told the Journal. “We’d rather take that money and put it toward a good cause.”

Taco Bell had mounted a fierce campaign against the trademark, arguing that its customers could “Live Más” if only they could “freely say ‘Taco Tuesday.’”

The campaign included an advertisement featuring Lakers star LeBron James saying, “Everyone should be able to say and celebrate Taco Tuesday.” The ad bleeped out the word Tuesday, with James explaining that there was a trademark on the phrase.

“No more trademark. No more bleeping, starting right now,” James says.

Taco Bell took a cheeky tone in its May filing with the patent office.

“People like tacos on Tuesdays. They just do. It’s even fun to say: ‘Taco Tuesday.’ Tacos have the unique ability to bring people together and bring joy to their lives on an otherwise mediocre day of the week. But since 1989, entities associated with Registrant have owned a federal trademark registration for ‘Taco Tuesday.’ Not cool,” Taco Bell wrote in the company’s petition.

Taco John’s initially fought Taco Bell’s incursion on the trademark in May — but said that other restaurants could use the Taco John’s special Taco Tuesday offer for the month of June.

“Taco John’s is all about sharing the Taco Tuesday® love with taco fans everywhere. So, while a certain Los Angeles resident who happens to play basketball for a living — and owns several trademarks of his own, including his name (really!) — has joined Taco Bell in trying to pick a fight, Taco John’s is all about bringing people together to share a common love for tacos,” the company said in a statement at the time.

While not as large as Taco Bell, which was founded in Downey in 1962 and has thousands of outlets worldwide, Taco John’s operates nearly 400 restaurants in 23 states and held the trademark for Taco Tuesday in 49 states — all except New Jersey.

Taco John’s giving up the trademark is a win for taco lovers across the country, said Gustavo Arellano, a Los Angeles Times columnist and author of “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.”

Arellano said that Taco John’s claims to have created the phrase are basically pork butt.

“Mexican restaurants have been advertising taco specials on Tuesday without officially calling it Taco Tuesday since the 1930s. The idea that Taco John’s invented the entire concept is a bald-faced lie,” he said.

Neither company immediately responded to a request for comment.

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