Taco Bell enlists LeBron James in its 'Taco Tuesday' tilt

The NBA star, who once tried to register the phrase himself, is joining the effort to cancel Taco John’s trademark.
Taco Bell trademark fight
Taco Bell is pushing to cancel the trademark for the phrase "Taco Tuesday." / Photo courtesy of Taco Bell.

Taco Bell is enlisting NBA star LeBron James in its effort to cancel Taco John’s trademark of the phrase “Taco Tuesday.”

The Mexican fast-food chain on Monday said that James would sign a petition calling for an end to the trademark. The Los Angeles Lakers player would also appear in an ad for the company, called “Taco Bleep.” The ad is designed to highlight the “absurdity” that the phrase would be trademarked.

“’Taco Tuesday’ is a tradition that everyone should be able to celebrate,” James said in a statement. “All restaurants, all families, all businesses, everybody.”

James notably tried to register the trademark himself, only to be rebuffed by Taco John’s, the Cheyenne, Wyo.-based chain that has held the trademark since 1989. Taco John’s owns the mark in every state but New Jersey.

Taco Bell filed a legal petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office calling for an end to all trademarks of the phrase, arguing that it is a common phrase that nobody should be able to own. Taco John’s argues that it’s a marketing phrase and is thus eligible to be a trademark.

Yet the campaign has already generated considerable attention for the much smaller Taco John’s, which generates less than 5% of the total system sales of its larger rival. The company has generated strong sales since Taco Bell came out with the campaign last week and its app downloads have increased 25%, Taco John’s CMO Barry Westrum said on Monday.

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