More Taco Tuesday Trademark Stupidity, This Time Down Under

from the trademark-tuesday dept

Some of us believe that all the different nations of the world are filled with people that are mostly the same, that share the same values, and the same troubles. If only we could find some unifying issue or force that could fully bring us together, then we could finally live in a kind of Lennon-esque harmony with one another. I submit to you that perhaps stupid trademark stories revolving around “Taco Tuesdays” could well be that thing. In America, for instance, a chain called Taco John’s has spent the past few years waving around the trademark the USPTO stupidly gave it on the both generic and descriptive term “Taco Tuesdays“, insisting that every other business that uses it stop immediately. How this mark was ever granted, given that it describes a good offered on the day it is offered — tacos on a tuesday — is a question that has kept me up many a night. Despite the trouble Taco John’s has caused with this, the trademark remains registered and in place.

And now it appears that Australia has its own version of this, featuring another company waving around another trademark for “Taco Tuesdays” that never should have been granted.

A stone’s throw into the city’s wild west sits Footscray’s Reverence Hotel, famed for its live music and cheap Tuesday tacos. After six years of dishing up the spicy fare, the landmark corner hotel is suddenly feeling the heat over a claim that it is infringing a trademark held by Mexican food chain Salsas Fresh Mex, which has outlets dotted across Melbourne including a site at Highpoint shopping centre. A letter from Salsas Holdings marketing manager Rebecca Woods to The Reverence Hotel demanded it stop using the phrase ”Taco Tuesday” on its website and social media accounts.

“We assume that you are unaware that Salsas is the owner of the registered trade mark TACO TUESDAY in respect to the provision of Mexican-style food and restaurant services,” it states. “The Mexican-style food offered by Salsas under that trademark has become extremely well and favourably known among members of the public in Australia, and as a result is associated with Salsas.”

I’m going to keep hammering on this until someone listens, because this trademark is not valid. Period. Paragraph. Full stop. It does not identify a source. The phrase itself is generic and common in both the restaurant industry the world over and even in homes around the world. Tuesday is for tacos and nothing about the phrase has anything to do with any individual person or business.

The folks at Footscray’s had this same reaction in the most punk venue way possible.

Publican Matt Bodiam said his first reaction on opening the letter on Wednesday was amusement, but he soon realised the potential seriousness.

“I had a bit of a giggle, then [thought] I better look into it,” he said. “I can’t believe someone can trademark ‘Taco Tuesday’; it would be like trademarking ‘Happy Hour’ or ‘Tight-Arse Tuesday’, although perhaps someone has trademarked those as well.”

Actually, the “happy hour” reference is only half right. In that phrase, we have an example of the generic language tons of businesses use. Taco Tuesdays is the same in that respect, except it’s also descriptive. This isn’t the protection of the consuming public, the very point of trademark law, but rather the locking up of language for commercial purposes. And it’s dumb.

But it also works. Salsas has enough of a legal warchest to make Footscray’s fighting the good fight on this an absurd notion. It is far easier and less expensive to simply cow to the demands of the trademark bully than putting up a fight in court. Trademark bullying, in other words, works. But perhaps not without giving creative punk venue owners the last laugh.

Mr Bodiam said The Reverence would continue selling tacos on Tuesdays, but the night is now listed on its site as “Taco Sueday”.

Bravo, sir.

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Comments on “More Taco Tuesday Trademark Stupidity, This Time Down Under”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Well, you're WRONG with the first sentence: it's a woozy doozy.

Some of us believe that all the different nations of the world are filled with people that are mostly the same, that share the same values, and the same troubles.

That’s only true if refer to The Poor, Timmy. When you admit that there are two classes, then you necessarily find that The Rich in every country and all times are so evil as they can get away with — for the sheer hell of it.

You’re supposedly, from the last piece, concerned about "the children" BUT HERE, you’re content to waste your time on "trademark" disputes that don’t matter at all.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yeah, if you’re complaining that someone is talking about subject X rather than subject Y, you’re generally just admitting that you’re too stupid to deal with more than one thing at a time. Whinging about such things on a blog where, by its nature, every post deals with a distinctly different subject to the next is simply moronic.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

A couple of things

First, but only because it is shorter, happy hour is rarely only an hour, and if it were trademarked, the argument would be over which hour the ‘happy’ was applied to. It is my contention that the ‘happy’ would apply most to the last hour of happy hour, unless one was severely depressed at the beginning of happy ‘hour’ and became more so over the extent of the happy hours.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that Beverage Managers in hotels I worked at were willing to foot the cost of free food buffets during happy hour(s) in order to draw increased customer counts. While beverages (alcohol) have a higher percentage of profit than food, typically, (but a lower average check) the sheer fact of having more drinkers in the bar, even at discounted ‘happy hour’ pricing gave them enough gross profit to pay for the food, and show an improved net income after expenses.

Well, maybe shorter.

As to the trademark of ‘Taco Tuesdays’, Timothy lays out a variety of valid reasons as to why it should not be a valid trademark, anywhere. I would like to add that anyone who has visited Mexico and sampled the huge variety of tacos available there, which differ in the various regions of that country, would have no inclination to associate the tacos of Mexico with the stuff served in the US as tacos. At least in any restaurant (or home) that I have experienced them (in the US) in. That there might be some better exhibition of them in Australia seems like it might be possible, but unlikely. I suspect (though I do not know) that what is served in Australia is more like the crap that is served in most American restaurants rather than the large variety, and quality served in Mexico. The best tacos I have had in Mexico did not have crunchy taco shells, and more importantly the tacos were made ‘a la minute’ (a French term meaning at the moment) and were soft (I prefer the maize rather than the harina (corn vs wheat)). The point is, they should not call those things tacos.

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