Restaurant Owner Sues Taco Bell over "Live Más" Campaign, Claiming Idea was His

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Kevin McCarney, founder and president of Poquito Más: The Original Taco Stand in Los Angeles, prides himself on the quality of his food and so he's not happy that, in his view, fast-food giant Taco Bell illegally stole his "más" theme for its own advertising campaign.

McCarney claims Irvine-based Taco Bell officials sought permission in early 2012 to use his federally-registered "Más" trademarks, but he declined because he didn't want to harm his company's reputation, according to an ongoing lawsuit in Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.

Despite the rejection, Taco Bell officials nevertheless launched their "Live Más" (or, in English, "live more") advertising campaign in television, Internet and newspaper ads.

"[Taco Bell's] acts are deliberate and intended to confuse the public [as well as to] injure plaintiff and reap the benefit of plaintiff's goodwill associated with the Más marks," according to Brent H. Blakely and Cindy Chan, Manhattan Beach-based lawyers for Poquito Más and McCarney.

The plaintiff wants U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter to issue an injunction against Taco Bell and seeks monetary damages for the alleged trademark violations.

According to federal records, McCarney's Poquito Más Licensing Corporation owns trademarks including "Poquito Más," "Mucho Más," "Chef Más," "The Más," and, its early 2013 registration, "Get Poquito Más Out of Life"--all complete with the accent mark, of course.

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However, Taco Bell's lawyer--Sean M. Sullivan at Davis Wright Tremaine in Los Angeles--denies any legal violations and notes his client owns the trademarks for "Live Más" and "Taco Bell Live Más," and uses the phrase "Sometimes You Gotta Live Más."

[Disclosure: Davis Wright Tremaine served as OC Weekly's retained legal counsel for many years.]

According to Sullivan, his client is the victim in the dispute. Taco Bell executives required Poquito Más officials to sign a January 2012 nondisclosure contract before they shared plans for the "Live Más" campaign, won the agreement and then saw Poquito Más violate the deal by "immediately" launching an advertising campaign with the phrase "Get Poquito Más Out of Life."

The violation of the nondisclosure contract terms means Poquito Más should pay Taco Bell for damages, according to Sullivan.

If mediation fails, Judge Carter has scheduled a February 2, 2015, trial in Santa Ana.

Poquito Más, established in 1984 in Studio City, runs 11 restaurants and Taco Bell has nearly 6,000 outlets.

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Email: rscottmoxley@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @RScottMoxley.


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11 comments
Melanie Nepsa-Goss
Melanie Nepsa-Goss

Rme people get so mad about the dumbest shit. I'm sure there are plenty of people who have said Live Mas prior to Taco Bell using it as a slogan.

Lynn Maners
Lynn Maners

Someone patented "means of walking a dog."

Tiffany Speed Blay
Tiffany Speed Blay

I think Taco Bell asked to use the "Mas" trademark, the taco stand owner said, "No" but Taco Bell went ahead and used it anyway. Those darn corporations. Always doing what they want and everything.

Gary Summers
Gary Summers

I think you can look at the pic of the dog and figure out what the meat is!

Ana Alicia Tristan
Ana Alicia Tristan

Can we sue for false advertisement and representation of Mexican food?

Fredy Guzman
Fredy Guzman

All i know is that 'Yo quiero Taco Bell' !!!

Luis Lopez
Luis Lopez

Right. The wording is different. It's as if I register the word "more" which nobody can use. Not going to happen. I should register and trademark taco or taqueria, yea right. I don't care for Taco Bell but this guys is an idiot.

Ralph Topete
Ralph Topete

Wonder if someone will sue Poquito Mas for using proclaiming to be the "original taco stand in Los Angeles?"

Ralph Topete
Ralph Topete

Hmmm, wonder if you can sue to get reimbursed for all that Pepto??? If so, time to buy some Pepto stock...

Dio Colindres
Dio Colindres

I don't understand why this guy thinks, he owns the word "más" Maybe the Spanish language academy, should sue them both, the taquero and taco bell for using Spanish words as trademarks.

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