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    Saturday, December 02, 2023

    We're entitled to our footlong opinion

    Has Subway bitten off more than it can chew?

    The Milford-based submarine sandwich chain, boasting 34,125 restaurants in 96 countries and more on the way, is engaged in a food fight of sorts with an Iowa-based convenience store that has stood up to the sandwich-making giant in a David vs. Goliath battle.

    The beef? Whether just anyone can use the word "footlong" to describe a 12-inch-long sandwich.

    Casey's General Stores Inc. maintains "footlong" (no hyphen, please) is part of the English language and not the sole property of Subway, and has asked a federal judge to weigh in on the matter.

    Casey's is no small potatoes itself. It operates about 1,600 stores in the Midwest, and at 180 of them it describes some of its sandwiches as "footlong" on menu boards.

    Last month a lawyer for Subway told Casey's to knock it off. It turns out Subway is awaiting word from the U.S. Patent Office on its request to trademark "footlong" for its sandwiches. The Patent Office already rejected Subway's appeal to trademark "footlong" for its restaurant services.

    Seriously folks, we're talking about food here. But apparently this is a big deal, because A&W, Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell and other chains are on the same side as Casey's - opposed. Anyone want a footlong root beer to wash down that footlong taco?

    Which makes one wonder just what is fair game when it comes to trademarks? Dunkin' Donuts has the sole rights to two of its drink names, "Coolatta" and "Dunkaccino," which, well, aren't words one uses everyday anyway. But when you're talking chicken, KFC owns the rights to "original recipe" and "extra crispy," which may upset those convinced their grandma has the original recipe to the best extra-cripsy chicken.

    What if McDonald's were to claim the rights to "freshly made," or Taco Bell to the Mexican staple "burritos"? Perhaps Ben & Jerry's is conjuring up a plan to make "vanilla" all its own.

    Big business certainly has good reason to protect its product lines and advertising jingles, but in the case of Casey's vs. Subway, we're siding with Casey's.

    Even when it's grammatically incorrect, "footlong" (foot-long sub sandwich for you English teachers out there) is a nomenclature too common to belong to anybody.

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