I.Protect: Footlong

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Thursday, July 17, 2014


clint Fabiosa & Ana Liza Villamor

IN 2007 in the US, the Subway restaurant applied for the registration of the trademark “Footlong” for its 12-inch sandwiches. Sheetz, the owner of a convenience store and gas station chain, opposed the application and argued that “Footlong” is generic to 12-inch sandwiches. Both parties submitted surveys of consumers on the question of whether “Footlong” is a brand of Subway or is merely a type of product. The US Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled in favor of Sheetz and stated that the term “Footlong” is widely used in the food and restaurant industry.

Despite Subway’s national presence in the US and its marketing efforts, it cannot have a monopoly over a generic and descriptive term. The fact that Subway is much bigger than other businesses using “Footlong” does not matter since the Trademark Law protects both big and small businesses from the registration of generic words.

(Sheetz vs. Doctor’s Associates, Opposition No. 91192657, USPTO Trademark Trial and Appeal Board).

(clint.fabiosa@iprotect.ph / analiza.villamor@iprotect.ph)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 18, 2014.

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