A bitter row has broken out between two London taco restaurants over the use of the word “taqueria,” and neither side seems willing to budge.
The taqueria, which has restaurants in Notting Hill and Exmouth Market, served a cease and desist order aimed at preventing another Mexican outlet, Sonora Taqueria, from trading under its current name.
In a 20-page letter, lawyers told Sonora’s owners that the use of the word “taqueria” in the branding “constitutes trademark infringement,” and gave a deadline of Sept. 21 to resolve the matter, Eater London reported.
However, Sonora, a street food stall based in Hackney, plans to fight the order, saying it believes the generic nature of the term “taqueria” does not mean a “consumer would consider the services [Sonora is] offer under signs containing taqueria to be supplied by, in connection with or under the authorization of [Taqueria]”.
In fact, owners Michelle Salazar de la Rocha and Sam Napier told the food industry website they believe they can fight the cease and desist charge.
Ismael Munoz, Taqueria’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “As with all UK trade mark registrations, the provisions of the Trade Marks Act give the holder exclusive rights to the trade mark and these rights are infringed when the trade mark is used in the UK by another business without the holder’s consent. As such, Sonora Taqueria Ltd’s use of ‘taqueria’ without Worldwide Taqueria Ltd’s consent constitutes trademark infringement.”
He added: “The ‘taqueria’ trade mark has been in use by Taqueria Worldwide Ltd, and its predecessors, for a highly successful restaurant in London since 2005. Through this long-term use, Worldwide Taqueria Ltd has developed significant goodwill and reputation in the trade mark… it will take all necessary steps to maintain the distinctiveness of its trademarks and enforce its rights against infringement by other parties.”
Meanwhile, Sonora’s co-owner Napier argued that the word “taqueria” was descriptive and non-distinctive, meaning “there can be many taquerias, just as there can be many pizzerias”.
Referring to Taqueria’s copyright filing in 2004, Napier told Eater: “I imagine there were very few places in the UK that used the word ‘taqueria’ [then] but now there are many of them.”
Sonora’s street food stall grew as a Covid business, but the owners are now looking for a permanent home for it.
Sonora and Worldwide Taqueria were contacted by the Guardian for comment on the legal dispute.