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Trademark Law

Subway Sued by Midwest Chain Asserting Right to Advertise Its ‘Footlong’ Sandwiches

Posted Feb 16, 2011 5:54 PM CDT
By Intern

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A legal dispute in Iowa has some of the trappings of high school: food fights and grammar debates.

The legal clash revolves around whether “footlong” is a noun that describes Subway sandwiches or an adjective that can be used to describe any 12-inch sandwich, the Des Moines Register reported.

Iowa-based convenience-store chain Casey’s General stores filed a petition in U.S. District Court on Friday in an effort to keep using “footlong” to promote its sandwiches after Subway lawyer Valerie Pochron wrote to Casey’s three weeks ago asserting "proprietary rights to 'footlong' and other elements of the Casey's campaign,” the Des Moines Register reported. Subway has filed a trademark application for "footlong" that has not yet been approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Despite Subway’s legal threats, Casey’s, which has 1,600 stores in the Midwest, is using “footlong” on signs and menus in 180 of its locations.

Subway lawyers have yet to file a response to the petition, the Associated Press reported. No trial date has been set.

Subway has long used the term "$5 footlong" to promote its line of sandwiches at its 34,000 stores. With various restaurant chains opposing Subway’s trademark request, the case’s outcome could affect menus across the U.S., the Des Moines Register said.

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