Update, September 12, 2019: LeBron James can’t win all the time. The New York Times reports the United States Patent and Trademark Office rejected his application to trademark the phrase “Taco Tuesday,” noting that the phrase was “a commonplace term, message or expression widely used by a variety of sources.” This leaves the fate of Taco John’s Taco Tuesday trademark in limbo: Will the fast food chain eventually be forced to release its grip on the phrase? Or will it retain use of it in conjunction with marketing fast food tacos? We await news from the Patent and Trademark Office with taco-bated breath.
Original story, September 3, 2019: The precise ownership of “Taco Tuesday” as a concept is hard to pin down. Many would argue that Taco Tuesday is a democratic pursuit, belonging to any and all people who respect and honor the dictates of the weekly tradition. Taco John’s, which actually does own a trademark on Taco Tuesday under the category of “restaurant services,” would likely argue that the rights are at least a shade narrower. And for NBA and future Space Jam 2 star LeBron James, Taco Tuesday is a potential personal brand, one he’s seeking to lock down as soon as possible.
ESPN reports that James has filed to secure rights to Taco Tuesday through his company LBJ Trademarks, LLC. James appears to be focused on cementing the concept as a key part of his social media presence, in keeping with his popular Instagram videos on the subject. As such, the filing aims to annex his rights to Taco Tuesday as they relate to “downloadable audio/visual works,” “podcasting services,” “online entertainment services,” and this mouthful: “Advertising and marketing services provided by means of indirect methods of marketing communications, namely, social media, search engine marketing, inquiry marketing, internet marketing, mobile marketing, blogging and other forms of passive, sharable or viral communications channels.”
An ESPN source notes that “James’ team has no firm plans for the term but wants to keep all business opportunities open,” and yeah, you can tell. LeBron isn’t the first to attempt ownership over Taco Tuesday; a cursory search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s archives yields around a dozen other pretenders to the throne, who came and went and never made a true claim on mid-week celebrations of tacos. From gaming machines to apparel brands, each has fallen by the wayside in time. But then, none of them had the backing of one of the planet’s most famous athletes in their favor, either.
Since a trademark can exist for the same property across different industries, Taco John’s had better prepare for the new sheriff in town. James, meanwhile, will continue to expand his brand portfolio when not preoccupied with his day job.