Saturday, January 7, 2012

One Footlong Moron, No Jalapenos

It's been a busy couple of weeks and your friendly Moron In A Hurry has been a little too hurried to really devote a lot of research time but now Christmas is over so hopefully we'll be back on a more normal schedule.

Today we're talking about Subway and if you live in the US you've been subjected to their "$5 Footlong" campaign for what feels like ever.  It was a promotion started by an independent franchisee in Miami in 2004 and it was a huge hit.  Subway's marketing department caught wind of his spike in sales and a nationwide campaign was rolled out in 2008, in addition to the still-running Subway Diet campaign starring Everyman Jared Fogle.  Again, it was a huge hit and other fast food places noticed and started to implement their own versions.  This, of course, is when the trouble started. 

Subway filed to trademark the term "footlong" for the first time in 2007 and there are multiple issues with this (links will take you to discussions by people way smarter than me).  First, it's part of the common vernacular.  Second, it's a misspelling.  There's the small matter that it's bullying but that's just my personal opinion, no outside link needed.  Subway's application has been denied a couple of different times and they just seem to keep changing their motion a little each time.  Part of the filing is supposed to cover "Footlong Restaurant Services," which is just...look, in addition to being a moron I'm also frequently twelve.

Anyway, Subway is still trying and in the winter of 2011 really jumped the gun and started sending out "cease and desist" letters to restaurants from Florida to Iowa and they're not taking it lying down.  Casey's General Stores is going after them for "frivolous litigation" among other things.  Subway filed for a restraining order to keep local-to-me company Sheetz Inc. from using the word to describe their MTO (Made To Order, mangled locally as "MTOgies") line in 2009 and they lost that tangle, too.  Then again, Sheetz has been poking Subway with a stick for years, as in the ad below. 



  1. some companies employ too many lawyers.

  2. I couldn't agree more, Kurbiss.

  3. I agree with Kurbiss. Maybe they should pay their employees more and use fewer lawyers. I really like Subway ... it's the healthiest 'fast food' chain in my neighborhood.

    I hope I can say 'fast food' without getting sued.

  4. @bccmee...really. It's ridiculous what people try to call dibs on.

  5. Jazzy,
    My maiden name in RL is usually a noun and sometimes slang verb. But, I'm not going to try to trademark them. Ha!
    Perhaps the law should have a rule of thumb, if a word or phrase has drifted into common usage such that it appears in a dictionary--such as the Oxford English Dictionary, a compendium of all the words we would and wouldn't like to know about--then the word can't be trademarked for private usage by companies. Or, is that too simplistic and common sense a suggestion? Ha!
    Cheers! Grati ;->
    P.S. Dictionaries do distinguish between what is a "proper" name and what has drifted into common usage.

  6. LOL, Grati...I think "common sense" and "common law" are mutually exclusive concepts.

  7. Holy crap that commercial was funny! I found myself pulling a 'Homer' at your first mention of Sheetz (mmmm....mtogies). Sad I know, but I can't help it!


Thanks for commenting!