By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming-based restaurant chain Taco John’s is suing a Minnesota restaurant, Taco Chon, accusing it of “willfully and deliberately” infringing on the Wyoming company’s trademark.
Taco John’s International, Inc. and Spicy Seasonings LLC filed a lawsuit this week in U.S. District Court in Minnesota, alleging that Taco Chon owner Juan Ramos is infringing on Taco John’s trademark of its name.
The companies accused Ramos of opening two quick-service Mexican cuisine 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 confusion, mistake or deception.”
Taco Chon has locations in St. Cloud, Minnesota, which is just over 1 mile away from a Taco John’s, and Burnsville, Minnesota, which is 4 miles away from a Taco John’s franchise.
“Defendants’ use of the term ‘Taco Chon’ is an attempt to trade on the goodwill and commercial magnetism that Taco John’s has built up in the [trademark] and to free-ride on Taco John’s fame as a preeminent Mexican restaurant brand,” attorneys for Taco John’s said in court filings this week.
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Ramos in the wake of the lawsuit, with a goal of raising $150,000. A little over $1,000 had been raised as of Friday morning.
“I [am] helping Juan Ramos keeping his American dream alive! Every dollar counts together we can save a dream! Together we can fight with Juan Ramos against the monster of the injustice! Let’s stop the dream killer! Let’s save Taco Chon Mexican Grill! God Bless you all,” the GoFundMe description read.
Ramos did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Friday.
However, Ramos told a Minnesota TV news outlet this week he has never been to a Taco John’s and that his food is different from the franchise’s. He also said he intended to fight the lawsuit and would represent himself in court, if necessary.
Meanwhile, attorneys for Taco John’s said they weren’t pleased they had to pursue a legal route to remedy the situation.
“We take no joy in enforcing our trademark rights in court against a small business owner and only do so after other options have been exhausted,” the company said in a statement.
Taco John’s is no stranger to filing lawsuits to protect its trademarks.
The company has sent “cease and desist” letters to other restaurants over their use of the slogan “Taco Tuesday,” which it trademarked in 1989.
In 2006, Taco John International sued Taco Del Mar, alleging one of its restaurants in Colorado used the slogan to advertise its Tuesday specials.
The lawsuit was dismissed at the request of all parties three months after it was filed.