Subway has been sending legal letters to sandwich places informing them that Subway “has applied for the trademark FOOTLONG (TM) in association with sandwiches,” and instructing them to stop calling their sandwiches “footlongs” or else.
The letter reads:
You are hereby put on notice to cease and desist from using FOOTLONG (TM) association with sandwiches. You must immediately remove all references to FOOTLONG (TM) in association with sandwiches.
NPR asked Subway to explain itself and got this response:
“Any legal process we go through is to protect the investment our franchisees have made in the brand,” Kane told me. “If ‘footlong’ is a name that’s been associated with us, it would benefit them that we would take an action like this to protect the association.”
The next step is for the trademark office to weigh Subway’s argument and decide if the word “footlong” is really something Subway can trademark.
It seems that they may be off to a somewhat rocky start — the restaurant that got the letter and told the media doesn’t even sell “footlong” sandwiches — they sell “footlong” hot dogs — and have done so for over 40 years. Subway says the hot dog place received the letter in error.
You can read the full letter here. (PDF)
Subway To Everyone Else: Stop Selling ‘Footlong’ Sandwiches [Planet Money](Thanks, Josh!)