Taco Time Canada is cracking down on “Taco Tuesday” and who has the right to use the slogan for everyone’s favourite day to eat tacos.
Calgary’s Mexican restaurant Blanco received a cease and desist letter on the weekend from Taco Time Canada’s legal counsel that states it can no longer use the trademarked slogan.
“They gave us 15 days,” Matthew Davidson, Blanco’s executive chef said.
“I was a little shocked. I mean Taco Tuesdays are a really big deal for us and it’s definitely one of those household names that everyone just associates with tacos.”
Taco Time Canada registered the trademark in 1997, long before the age of #TacoTuesday on social media and before people started living their best “taco lyfe.”
In a letter sent to Blanco, its legal counsel MTY Tiki Ming Entreprises Inc. stated, “Cease any and all use, publication, broadcasting or distribution of material using the << Taco Tuesday >> trademark in relation to your restaurant services… destroy or remit to MTY for destruction, all signs, billboards, leaflets, coupons advertisements…”
Scroll down to read the full letter
It came as a surprise to the business and a lot of taco lovers, but according to Taco Time vice president Steve Nickerson, it’s something the franchise deals with all the time.
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“We saw the sign on the boulevard and then we did an investigation and saw they had further reference on their website and Facebook page,” Nickerson said.
“Ironically, we sent out three cease and desist notifications the same day, including one in Saskatoon and then one for a national quick-service Mexican restaurant chain.”
The two words together help fill taco sales across the country with restaurants like Blanco using them on social media to indicate its serving discounted tacos on Tuesdays.
But what does Taco Tuesday mean to the consumer?
“Like the happy hour of tacos,” one Calgarian said. “I don’t refer to it as Taco Time, I usually just refer it to a day where we go get tacos.”
Others say it’s a good deal on tacos or just a day of the week to eat them.
A lot of other Mexican restaurants around Calgary also use the popular slogan in their advertising or have tweaked it a little bit, like adding an “S” to the end of Tuesday.
Marketing expert and Mount Royal University instructor David Howse says every business has the right to protect its intellectual property and assets, but he hopes Taco Time isn’t just choosing easy targets to go after.
“It’s unfortunate when a large company goes after a small company when in fact, if anybody did the research, there’s probably hundreds of similar violations across Canada for the same term. Thousands of people use Taco Tuesday on their social media and they’re not even thinking about Taco Time,” Howse said.
“First, talk to your lawyer and then think as a business strategist, do you have the resources to keep this battle going?”
You can take the Taco Tuesday out of Blanco, but you can’t take the discounted Mexican delicacy out of that day. The Calgary restaurant still plans to offer tacos on Tuesdays at a cheaper price.
“Everyone knows Taco Tuesday,” Davidson said. “They will come out on Tuesday because they know that we’re going to do half price tacos. So I don’t think changing the day would help us at all.”
For all the taco lovers out there, the restaurant is asking its customers to help rename the special in a contest on a website they created called “Save Taco Tuesday.”