Subway has been advertising its ‘footlong’ sandwiches, which is an indication that its sandwiches are 12″ long. Subway has also been trying to patent the term saying the ‘footlong’ is all its and its, alone. It has also sent out cease and desist orders to anyone who uses what it claims is its term. But one company has taken Subway to task and is suing Subway stating it does not have a right to the term and that anyone can use it.
The company is Casey’s General Sore with some 1,600 stores located mainly in the midwest. Casey’s General Store claims that Subway has no right to ask for proprietary use of the word and that anyone can use the word in their advertising. In one article it states that:
Casey’s is asking for a jury trial and is seeking a declaration that the term “footlong” is generic and does not violate any trademark owned by Subway. Casey’s is also asking for unspecified damages over Subway’s “frivolous” claims.
If anyone who has ever been to any beach resort on either coast know, the term ‘footlong’ has been used when advertising hot dogs that are one foot long. This term has been around a lot longer than Subway has been in business, since the franchise opened its first store in 1965. But Subway contends it has no issue with hot dogs being referred to as ‘footlong,’ just sandwiches.
If you have seen any of the Subway commercials, the term ‘footlong’ appears to me to be included in the term ‘five-dollar footlong.’ In fact, the commercial jungle includes both five-dollar and ‘footlong’ together. Subway seems to feel that when it comes to sandwiches, it owns ‘footlong’ and is willing to fight for that right.
It was ironic that my wife brought home my favorite ‘footlong’ sandwich today from Subway, which I really enjoy. But the term ‘footlong’ to me is generic, just like the word ‘pizza.’ Could you imagine if a pizza franchise sued everyone for using the word ‘pizza?’ I believe that ‘five-dollar footlong’ should be a Subway exclusive term.
It will be interesting to see how this turns out and what the court or jury decides.
What do you think?