The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) this week denied an application from James for a trademark of “Taco Tuesday.” In their decision, the USPTO wrote that “Taco Tuesday” is a “commonplace term, message, or expression widely used by a variety of sources.”
According to the ruling, the day and the phrase continues to belong to the people. James frequently talks about “Taco Tuesday” on social media, sharing videos of moments where his family was readying to devour tacos…yes that is right…on a Tuesday.
While James loves his tacos on Tuesday, a trademark of the popular phrase was a bridge too far.
“Under [United States] trademark law, if a phrase is commonly used in everyday speech, the phrase is then unable to be registered as a trademark,” patent and trademark attorney Josh Gerben told FOX Business. “At this point, Lebron’s company could appeal the refusal. That said, this type of refusal is extremely difficult to overcome. It is very likely that this application will now just abandon.”
According to the application from James’ company, LBJ Trademarks, the phrase was going to be used for “Online entertainment services, namely, providing a website featuring non-downloadable videos, and social media posts in the field of sports, entertainment, current events and popular culture.”
But it turns out the denial might have in fact been a victory for James.
“Finding ‘Taco Tuesday’ as commonplace achieves precisely what the intended outcome was, which was getting the U.S. government to recognize that someone cannot be sued for its use,” a spokesman for James told ESPN.
“Taco Tuesday” has been popular for decades and has become part of the vernacular for many Americans.
Taco John’s, a restaurant chain in the Midwest, trademarked the phrase in 1979. The company, with over 400 locations, has been vigilant in pursuing the use of “Taco Tuesday” with hundreds of cease-and-desist orders since the trademark was approved.
It appears that James wanted to utilize the phrase of “Taco Tuesday” for his podcast and other online ventures, not to necessarily sell tacos.
“I think it is important to note that Lebron can still call his internet show ‘Taco Tuesday.’ This USPTO decision blocks his ability to register the phrase as a trademark,” Gerben said. “It does not affect his ability to use the phrase.”