Why LeBron James' 'Taco Tuesday' trademark application was denied

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.

Related: LeBron James and Anthony Davis through the years

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LeBron James and Anthony Davis through the years
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LeBron James and Anthony Davis through the years
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) after an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Sunday, March 31, 2019. The Lakers won 130-102. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 18: LeBron James #23 and Anthony Davis #23 of Team LeBron celebrate after winning the NBA All-Star Game 2018 at Staples Center on February 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 21: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in front of Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans after a 112-104 Laker win at Staples Center on December 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 21: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers guards Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans during a 112-104 Laker win at Staples Center on December 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - FEBRUARY 16: Anthony Davis and LeBron James attend the Klutch 2019 All Star Weekend Dinner Presented by Remy Martin and hosted by Klutch Sports Group at 5Church on February 16, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Dominique Oliveto/Getty Images for Klutch Sports Group 2019 All Star Weekend)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 15: NBA Players Anthony Davis (L) and LeBron James attend GQ & LeBron James NBA All Star Party Sponsored By Samsung Galaxy And Beats at Ogden Museum's Patrick F. Taylor Library on February 15, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for GQ)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: (L-R) LeBron James #6, Kevin Durant #5, Anthony Davis #14 and Carmelo Anthony #15 of the United States celebrate after they won against Spain during the Men's Basketball gold medal game on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympics Games at North Greenwich Arena on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, right, smiles as he walks past New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis (23) keeps the ball from Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Cleveland, Friday, March 30, 2018. James scored in double figures for his 867th consecutive game, eclipsing the old mark of 866 held by Michael Jordan.(AP Photo/Phil Long)
FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016 file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, right, steals the ball from New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis in the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) drives past New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 22, 2014, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
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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.

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