Mexican restaurant says Taco John’s isn’t real Mexican food in trademark dispute

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Taco John’s does not sell authentic Mexican cuisine, so it cannot be confused with an authentic Mexican restaurant with an arguably similar name, a Minnesota restaurant’s law firm argued in federal court.

The comments were included in a response to a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging trademark infringement by Taco John’s against Taco Chon of Minnesota.

In April, Taco John’s International, Inc. and Spicy Seasonings LLC sued Taco Chon, accusing owner Juan Ramos of infringing Taco John’s trademark.

But Ramos’ attorney argued in a response dated May 16 that although Taco John’s has a federal trademark on its name, it was a “misnomer” that the company could enforce the trademark “with a brush.” wide”.

“Taco Chon Mexican Grill was created through the unique and personal experiences of Juan Ramos dedicating the entire existence of his restaurants in honor of his father and his life in Jalisco, Mexico,” the response reads.

The attorney also claimed that Taco John’s was using its financial resources to intimidate small business owners and was using the lawsuit to destroy the American Dream.

Taco John’s, in a statement sent to the Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday, told the Cowboy State Daily that Taco Chon’s response had no factual or legal basis for his arguments when the only issue to be resolved was the use of a brand that closely resembles the Cheyenne brand. based restaurant uses for 50 years.

“We have great respect for each person who works hard to achieve their version of the American Dream. This includes dozens of Taco John franchisees, most of whom are small business owners themselves,” the statement said. “We have an important obligation to them to protect the Taco John name and not allow others to use facsimiles of it. As we have said from the beginning, we take no joy in enforcing our trademark rights against any small business owner and only do so after exhausting other options.

Taco John’s accused Ramos of opening two Mexican quick-service restaurants similar to Taco John’s under the name “Taco Chon” within 5 miles of Taco John’s restaurants in Minnesota, which is “likely to cause controversy.” confusion, error or deceit”.

Taco Chon has locations in St. Cloud, Minnesota, which is just over 1 mile from a Taco John’s, and in Burnsville, Minnesota, which is 4 miles from a Taco John’s franchise.

Ramos’ attorney argued that Taco John’s “West Mex” could never be confused with authentic Mexican food, which Ramos serves in his restaurants. He added that Taco Chon was not a fast food restaurant like Taco John’s, but a Mexican steakhouse that offers sit-down meals and alcoholic beverages.

Ramos’ attorney sought damages from Taco John’s in the amount of at least $150,000 to compensate Ramos for any monetary and/or economic harm, as well as non-monetary harm, resulting from the lawsuit, citing Ramos’ depression and anxiety stemming from the affair.

Taco John’s is no stranger to filing lawsuits to protect its trademarks.

The company sent “cease and desist” letters to other restaurants regarding their use of the “Taco Tuesday” slogan, which it trademarked in 1989.

In 2006, Taco John International sued Taco Del Mar, alleging that one of its Colorado restaurants used the slogan to advertise its Tuesday specials.

The lawsuit was dismissed at the request of all parties three months after it was filed.

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