A federal prison inmate sued Taco Bell this week claiming the fast-food chain stole the idea for the Doritos Locos Taco from him.
Taco Bell, owned by Yum Brands, has sold more than half a billion if its wildly popular Dorito-shell taco creations since they hit the market 14 months ago, making the taco one of the most successful new fast food items of the 21st century. And now Gary Cole wants the credit.
In a suit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on May 15, Cole claims he sent a letter with nine product ideas
to Janice and Keoiana Cole in 2006 (it's not clear how the women are related to Cole). Most of the products fell under a brand Cole created called "Divas and Ballers," but on a second sheet he listed "Taco Shells of All Flavors (Made of Doritos)."
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The letter was "stolen through the United States Postal Service Mail and submitted to Frito Lays [sic], Taco Bell, Pepsi Co, Yum Brands," according to Cole's suit. The companies gave the mail thief "a check ... for a large amount" for the rights to his idea, then started manufacturing and selling the Doritos Locos Taco, the complaint says.
Cole has reached out to Taco Bell and requested access to any and all documents related to the invention of the Doritos Locos Tacos. He decided to sue when he failed to get a response.
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"We have not been served with the lawsuit
, but the claims we've read in online news sources are completely false and without merit," Taco Bell told the Huffington Post in a statement.
Cole is nearing the end of a 25-year sentence in Florence, Colo., for "delaying interstate commerce, conspiring to do so, and using and carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence."
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