Iowa store says Subway can’t claim ‘footlong’
DES MOINES — A convenience store in Iowa has asked a federal judge to rule that the word “footlong’’ is part of the general English language and not the special property of the Subway restaurant chain.
Casey’s General Stores Inc. in Ankeny filed a lawsuit against Subway in US District Court in Des Moines Friday seeking a declaration that Casey’s use of the word “footlong’’ to describe its 12-inch-long sandwiches does not violate any right owned by Subway.
Casey’s lawsuit also seeks a declaration that “footlong’’ is a generic description of a sandwich that measures one foot, and that Subway’s attempt to assert trademark rights is frivolous litigation.
“We maintain the use of ‘footlong’ by itself to describe a sandwich, which is approximately a foot long, is as old as the hills and everybody has that right and has had that right since they’ve been making foot-long sandwiches,’’ Ed Sease, an attorney for Casey’s, said yesterday.
The Des Moines Register first reported the suit yesterday
Subway, owned by Doctor’s Associate Inc. of Plantation, Fla., has used the phrases “$5 footlong’’ and “five-dollar footlong’’ for years at its 34,000 stores.
Casey’s describes sandwiches as “footlong’’ on menu boards at about 180 stores and intends to roll it out in all of its 1,600 stores in the Midwest, Sease said.
The dispute between Casey’s and Subway surfaced when one of Subway’s lawyers wrote to Casey’s Jan. 31, saying Doctor’s Associate applied for the trademark “footlong’’ for its sandwiches and Casey’s was on notice to cease and desist from using “footlong’’ or face legal action.