Minnesota restaurant says Taco John’s could never be mistaken for Mexican food


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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The attorney defending a Mexican restaurant owner against alleged trademark infringement by a Cheyenne-based fast food chain has argued in new court filings that Taco John’s is a ‘corporate bully’ who hasn’t fear of appropriating Mexican culture.

In April, Cheyenne-based Taco John’s International, Inc. and Spicy Seasonings LLC sued Minnesota-based Mexican restaurant Taco Chon, accusing owner Juan Ramos of infringing Taco John’s trademark.

Both restaurants filed summaries of their cases and positions in U.S. District Court in Minnesota on June 8, with Ramos’ attorney detailing the restaurant owner’s struggle to come to America and fulfill his dream.

The attorney detailed Ramos’ childhood in Jalisco, Mexico, when he helped his parents with a food cart they ran in the 1980s.

He saw them in financial difficulty and wanted to do whatever he could to support them.

“Similar to the famous scene from ‘My Cousin Vinny…’ ‘No self-respecting Southerner would ever eat instant oatmeal,’ the true Mexican taco eater knows that a good taco is the marriage of perfect meat and the perfect salsa made from scratch,” Ramos’ attorney wrote.

“Ramos swore and became motivated by keeping his promise to his mother that he would one day have a Mexican steakhouse in the United States named ‘Taco Chon’ and she would never run out of money for it again. ‘groceries,’ he said.

Taco John’s attorneys argued that Ramos’ use of the “Taco Chon” name dilutes the Taco John’s brand’s ability to distinguish its restaurants’ products and services, regardless of competition.

There are 57 Taco John’s restaurants in Minnesota.

Taco John’s attorneys also said the two restaurants were similar, a claim strongly disputed by Ramos’ attorney.

Ramos’ lawyer argued that the name of his client’s restaurant is taken from a nickname given to his father, “Don Chon”, because he would dress up as a character of the same name from a popular Mexican television series from the 1960s. 1970, “Los Polivoces”.

Taco Chon’s attorneys said the fast-food restaurant Taco John’s could not provide sufficient evidence to show it had been confused with the full-service Mexican restaurant.

“Taco Chon Mexican Grill is not a ‘junior user’ of any [trademark] because Ramos’ family were occupiers of Mexican culture long before Taco John’s landed on the rock in Wyoming,” Ramos’ attorney said.

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 cuisine, 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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