LeBron James hasn’t lived in Los Angeles for too long but he’s already become a huge fan of the cuisine —specifically tacos, and now he’s looking to trademark the ubiquitous phrase “Taco Tuesday.” But people aren’t too happy about it.
On August 15, his company LBJ Trademarks LLC filed a “taco Tuesday” trademark request after his posts featuring tacos have gone viral. He’s known to imitate a Mariachi-style cry, howling the phrase “Taco Tuesday” which is already problematic, to be honest. He also had custom shirts designed with his face just for “Taco Tuesday.”
But the popularity of the phrase is evident not just in the city with the best Mexican food in the U.S. but throughout the country so it should come as no shock that another company has already trademarked the phrase.
JUST IN: LeBron James leaves no potential business opportunity on the table. Over time, he has sought to own “Taco Tuesday.” He has now filed to trademark the phrase for social media posts and a show of that name. First discovered by @JoshGerben pic.twitter.com/IXNduvilzR
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 31, 2019
Fast-food chain Taco John’s, based in Cheyenne, Wyo., has owned the trademark registration on “Taco Tuesday” since 1989 and they’re known for aggressively preventing others from using the phrase.
“Taco Tuesday is a ubiquitous term — when you have multiple outlets all trying to use the same mark in a very crowded field, it’s very difficult to get the Trademark Office to give you that protection and even if they [do] it’s going to be very thin protection,” trademark attorney David Leichtman told Yahoo Finance.
James’ proposed trademark includes classifications like “podcasting services” as well as “online entertainment services… and social media posts in the field of sports, entertainment, current events, and popular culture.”
“[Taco John’s] registration is limited to the restaurant area… what LeBron James is trying to do is slightly different,” Leichtman told YFi PM. “He can probably use it, but what he probably can’t do is protect against other people from also using it, or from using similar things,” Leichtman said.
According to James’ spokesman, the trademark is actually to protect the company from potential lawsuits if they decide to pursue projects in the future though nothing is in development and they don’t intend to stop people from using the phrase, he told the New York Times.
Gustavo Arellano, author of the book “Taco U.S.A.” and features writer for the Los Angeles Times called out Taco John’s for committing the “culinary version of Columbusing” and is hoping James will actually get the United States Patent and Trademark Office to declare “taco Tuesday” “un-trademarkable.”
“‘Taco Tuesday’ is part of America’s culinary patrimony, a brilliant mix of commerce, culture and comida encapsulated in an alliterative aphorism,” he states.
He’s also quick to point out that if James is successful he’ll have to deal with the ire of the Latinx community and judging by the reaction so far it won’t do him in any good.
Is Lebron James really trying to trademark taco Tuesday??? If so, can we consider canceling him? Let’s taco’bout this! pic.twitter.com/ldoyxMPEqh
— Nydia Yvette (@nydia_yvette) September 2, 2019
The absolute worst thing @KingJames could have done to destroy his name among #Raza There is still time…take it back and apologize…be smart!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/4te83Oyptb
— Luis Alvarado (@latinostrategy) September 1, 2019
Yo @KingJames Taco Tuesday belongs to the Mexicans, just don't touch it you tortilla fork flipping twat
— samwise (@sammnneess) August 31, 2019
Despite the insistence that the trademark wouldn’t keep people from using it, the act itself is another form of cultural appropriation that is both unnecessary and misguided.