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The London Taqueria Threatened Over Use of the Word ‘Taqueria’ Will Not Change Its Name

Michelle Salazar de la Rocha and Sam Napier will not be changing Sonora’s identity

Michelle Salazar de la Rocha and partner Sam Napier at their stall, Sonora Taqueria in East London
Michelle Salazar de la Rocha and partner Sam Napier at their now-closed stall, Sonora Taqueria
Michaël Protin/Eater London

The Mexican-owned taqueria which faced a legal threat over its used of the word “taqueria” in September has told Eater that it will continue to use the term, believing that the case against it “seems pretty much dead in the water.”

Nearly two months ago, lawyers representing Worldwide Taqueria, which owns restaurants in Notting Hill and on Exmouth Market, wrote to Michelle Salazar de la Rocha and Sam Napier, directors of Sonora Taqueria. They informed them of the alleged infringement of Taqueria’s trademark, which was registered in 2005, and demanded that Sonora cease using the word “taqueria” in its name and across all of its branding, including on social media.

It sparked a huge reaction from the Mexican community online and across the world, resulting in a petition which has attracted nearly 130,000 signatures. Sonora, which closed its street food stall in Netil Market, Hackney, in September, is currently searching for a location to open a sit-down taqueria in 2023.

Worldwide Taqueria is owned by Trent Alexander Ward and Daniele Benatoff, both directors in numerous businesses, according to public records. Although Worldwide’s operations manager Ismael Munoz Sonora said that “Taqueria Ltd’s use of TAQUERIA without Worldwide Taqueria Ltd’s consent constitutes trademark infringement” in September, no one at Worldwide has responded to questions since.

“We met personally with [Worldwide] to work it out,” Napier told Eater London on Friday 28 October. “Last time we spoke was about a month ago where I suggested to them they just stop. They felt they were in a position where they had to act legally to maintain their trademark; I said there’s no copyright infringement here so there’s nothing for them to defend against. [Ward] said he’d check with his partners and lawyers and get back to me, and was the last I heard. Whatever the conclusion the main thing is that we’re not dropping taqueria from our name — Sonora taqueria lives on…”

Although Sonora has attracted a significant number of new followers from all over the world, and felt the weight of public support, Salazar is tired and is mildly concerned that the whole ordeal has become a distraction.

“I honestly still can’t believe this whole thing happened and it’s still going on. Even though there’s still a lot of interest in the case, still getting requests from Mexican media, still getting messages of support and asking for updates, I’m a bit worried of our business being defined by this,” she said.

“I really am grateful for the support of people that want to fight this with us, but at this point it seems like we’re not going to have this satisfying ending to the story. We haven’t really ‘freed the taquería’. The only way I think we can keep fighting this is by actually being a taquería — a really good one, I hope.”

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