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TxDOT Claims El Fenix’s Instagrammable Mural Infringes on Government Trademark

‘Don’t mess with Tex-Mex’ is a no-go according to the agency

El Fenix/Instagram

Longtime local Tex-Mex stalwart El Fenix has found itself in the middle of a scuffle with the Texas Department of Transportation over the “Don’t mess with Texas” trademark.

The restaurant just unveiled a new mural on the outside of its McKinney Avenue outpost that reads “Don’t Mess With Tex-Mex” to the chagrin of the Texas Department of Transportation, which had previously denied the eatery’s request to license the slogan in 2017, NBC5 reports.

The government agency says it will be in touch with the restaurant to address the issue. “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,” it said in a statement.

The restaurant countered TxDOT’s assertion and offered to ply the agency with free food and drinks. “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,” a spokesperson for the restaurant said. “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. We think our friends at TxDOT will have a change of heart if they come share a delicious enchilada meal and margaritas with us. Our treat!”

No word yet on whether or not TxDOT plans to pursue legal action over the mural.