TxDOT Files Legal Papers to Keep El Fenix From Using ‘Don’t Mess With Tex-Mex’

El Fenix Restaurant location on Woodall Rogers in downtown Dallas.

Dallas (WBAP/KLIF) – It appears the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) — originators of the award winning ‘Don’t Mess With Texas’ slogan opposes any variation thereof; specifically ‘Don’t Mess with Tex-Mex.’

An iconic D-FW restaurant wants to trademark the latter. El Fenix, a staple in Dallas for a century says it’s not its intention to infringe upon the original slogan, but to simply “celebrate their authentic recipes.”

TxDOT’s original slogan was tied to an anti-litter campaign, and has become one of the most favorite slogans in the nation.

The agency has filed a formal opposition against the ‘Don’t Mess with Tex-Mex trademark request, saying it dilutes the brand.

El Firebird IP, LLC, El Fenix’s parent company has until August 7th to respond.


The issue came to light back in April during a WBAP investigation of an El Fenix billboard that included the slogan; and the subsequent painting of ‘Don’t Mess with Tex-Mex on the restaurant’s Woodall Rogers location in downtown Dallas.

TxDOT issued a statement to WBAP/KLIF News:

TxDOT recently became aware of the “Don’t Mess With Tex Mex” slogan being used by the El Fenix restaurant. As TxDOT owns the “Don’t mess with Texas” slogan as the brand for its anti-litter campaign, we think El Fenix’s appropriation of our slogan infringes upon and dilutes the value of our trademark.

In keeping with the intended anti-litter message of our trademarked brand, TxDOT, in August of 2017, denied El Fenix’s request to license “Don’t mess with Texas” as the basis for the restaurant’s “Don’t Mess With Tex Mex” slogan. TxDOT will be in contact with El Fenix to address the issue.

In September Firebird IP, LLC filed for the trademark.

TxDOT took the matter under consideration for opposition in May, and on June 28th filed its formal notice of opposition.

“We pride ourselves on the fact that Tex-Mex and Texas have become so closely associated over the past 100 years, but not when it comes to trademark law. El Fenix’s ‘Don’t Mess with Tex-Mex’ campaign is singularly focused on a celebration of our authentic recipes and clearly can’t be confused with TxDOT’s anti-litter campaign. They added that TxDOT may have a change of heart if they “come in and have a meal, on us.”

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