NBA superstar LeBron James may have recently applied to trademark “Taco Tuesday” but he received some bad news on Wednesday.
The trademark application put forth by a business of James named LBJ Trademarks was denied by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, citing “Taco Tuesday’s” established place in American lexicon as a “commonplace message.”
“In this case, the applied-for mark is a commonplace term, message, or expression widely used by a variety of sources that merely conveys an ordinary, familiar, well-recognized concept or sentiment,” the USPTO examining attorney wrote in the declined trademark filing.
As Yahoo Finance wrote at the time of James’ initial trademark application last week, winning trademark protection for “Taco Tuesday” was going to be an uphill battle for precisely that reason. At the time, trademark attorney David Leichtman explained on Yahoo Finance’s YFi PM that it would be difficult to differentiate James’ use of “Taco Tuesday” even with his celebrity status. There was also the added problem that a restaurant chain named Taco John’s had already initially filed for the mark back in 1989.
But there was another preceding trademark filing which Yahoo Finance also caught for “Techno Taco Tuesday” that proved to be a key piece in the downfall of James’ attempt to lock up the rights to Taco Tuesday.
The techno twist on the Tuesday was actually trademarked by a Las Vegas entertainment company back in 2018, specifically for the “advertising and marketing services” category for which James was seeking protection. As such, James’ application was denied for being “confusingly similar to the registered mark.”
However, it’s not all bad news for the Los Angeles Laker. James could still respond to the USPTO filing with added or adjusted language within six months if he so chooses. And according to what someone in his circle reportedly told ESPN, James still may have achieved what he set out to do by establishing “Taco Tuesday” as a generic term to cover for any legal claims that could be brought against his use of the term.
You can read the USPTO’s full response to James’ trademark filing here.