The right to use the word “footlong” in relation to sandwiches sparks debate, court case.
Ankeny, Iowa-based Casey’s General Stores Inc., is suing Subway following the sandwich chain’s assertion that it owns the exclusive rights to the non-hyphenated, term “footlong” in promoting sandwiches, The Des Moines Register reported.
Subway, with 34,000 outlets in 93 countries, has promoted its 12-inch sandwiches, for years, using the term “footlong.”
C-store chain Casey’s, which has 1,600 locations in the Midwest, is currently rolling out made-to-order sandwiches at 1800 of its stores and is using the term “footlong” on signs and menus—a move Subway has objected to.
Three weeks ago, one of Subway’s lawyers, Valerie Pochron, reportedly wrote to Casey’s noting Subway’s proprietary rights to “footlong” and other elements of the Casey’s campaign, and threatening to sue Casey’s.
“Additionally, the offers of soup and pizza, as well as the design of the advertising offers, are all designed to create confusion to the average consumer,” Pochron wrote.
Casey’s beat Subway to the punch, and on Friday filed a petition in U.S. District Court asking for a jury trial and seeking a declaration that the term “footlong” is generic and does not violate any trademark owned by Subway. In addition Casey’s is seeking unspecified damages over Subway’s “frivolous” claims, The Des Moines Register noted.
“Casey’s has and will continue to use ‘footlong’ to describe a sandwich,” Casey’s lawyers noted.
Subway’s trademark application for “footlong” has yet to be approved by the federal government and a number of restaurants including, A&W, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s are opposing Subway’s application.
The company that owns Subway, Doctor’s Associates, hasn’t filed a response to Casey’s petition and no trial date has yet been set.