A bitter row has broken out between two London taco restaurants over the use of the word ‘taqueria’, with neither side appearing willing to comply.
Taqueria, which has restaurants in Notting Hill and Exmouth Market, has issued a cease and desist order aimed at preventing another Mexican outlet, Sonora Taqueria, from trading under its current name.
In a 20-page letter, the attorneys told Sonora owners that the use of the word “taqueria” in its trademark “constitutes trademark infringement”, giving a deadline of September 21 for the case to be resolved, a reported Eater London.
However, Sonora, a Hackney-based street food stand, plans to fight the order, saying it believes the generic nature of the term ‘taqueria’ does not mean a ‘consumer will consider services which [Sonora is] offers under signs containing taqueria to be supplied by, in association with or under the authorization of [Taqueria]”.
In fact, its owners Michelle Salazar de la Rocha and Sam Napier told the food industry website that they think they can fight off the cease-and-desist charge.
Ismael Munoz, Chief Operating Officer of Taqueria, said: “As with all UK trade mark registrations, the provisions of trade mark law grant the owner the exclusive right to the mark, and these rights are infringed where the trademark is used in the UK by another company without the consent of the owner. As such, the use of “taqueria” by Sonora Taqueria Ltd without the consent of Worldwide Taqueria Ltd constitutes trademark infringement.
He added: ‘The ‘taqueria’ brand has been used by Taqueria Worldwide Ltd and its predecessors for a very successful restaurant in London since 2005. Through this longstanding use, Worldwide Taqueria Ltd has developed significant brand awareness and reputation in the trademark… it will take all necessary measures to maintain the distinctive character of its trademarks and to enforce its rights against infringement by other parties.
Meanwhile, Sonora co-owner Napier argued that the word ‘taqueria’ was descriptive and not distinctive, meaning ‘there can be many taquerias, just as there can be many pizza places’. .
He said: “Our reason for fighting it is to allow anyone to accurately and legally use a typical Mexican term. Taqueria is a Mexican word used to describe a place that sells tacos, much like a pizzeria is a place that sells pizza.
“For Michelle, a Mexican immigrant to the UK, to be told she cannot legally use a word from her own culture by British nationals is frankly offensive, and the public response so far has shown that the he offense was felt by much of the Mexican community in the UK. We would like to invalidate their copyright claim so anyone can call their taqueria a taqueria.
Sonora’s street food stall has become a Covid business, but its owners are now looking for a permanent home for it.
Sonora and Worldwide Taqueria have been contacted by the Guardian to comment on the legal dispute.