The row between London taco restaurants gets spicy because of the use of ‘taqueria’ | UK news

A bitter dispute has erupted between two London taco restaurants over the use of the word ‘taqueria’, with neither side looking willing to budge.

Taqueria, which has restaurants in Notting Hill and Exmouth Market, 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, lawyers told Sonora’s owners that using the word “taqueria” in its brand “constitutes trademark infringement,” giving a Sept. 21 deadline to resolve the issue, Eater London reported.

However, Sonora, a Hackney-based street food stall, plans to fight the order, saying it believes the generic nature of the term ‘taqueria’ does not mean that a ‘consumer will consider the services [Sonora is] offer under signs that contain taquerias provided by, in cooperation with, or with the authorization of [Taqueria]”.

In fact, owners Michelle Salazar de la Rocha and Sam Napier told the food industry website they believe they can deal with a cease and desist charge.

Ismael Munoz, Taqueria’s director of operations, said: “As with all UK trade mark registrations, the provisions of the Trade Marks Act give the proprietor the exclusive right to the trade mark and these rights are infringed when the trade mark is used in the UK by another business without the owner’s consent. Therefore, Sonora Taqueria Ltd’s use of ‘taqueria’ without the consent of Worldwide Taqueria Ltd constitutes trademark infringement.”

He added: “The ‘taqueria’ trade mark has been used 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 trademark … will take all necessary steps to maintain the discretion 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 non-distinctive, meaning “there can be many taquerias, just as there can be many pizzerias.”

He said: “The reason we are fighting this 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, like a pizzeria is a place that sells pizzas.

“For Michelle, a Mexican immigrant to the UK, to be told she cannot legally use a word from her culture by UK nationals is frankly offensive and the public response so far has shown that the offense has been felt by many of the Mexican community in the UK. We would like to invalidate their copyright claim so that everyone can call their taqueria a taqueria.”

The Sonora street food stall was developed as 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 for comment on the legal dispute.

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