Subway Trademarks

Subway is an American fast-food franchise specializing in submarine sandwiches, salads, wraps, and drinks. Their restaurants are located in more than 100 countries and territories worldwide. 

Subway was founded by Fred DeLuca, who borrowed $1,000 from his friend Peter Buck to start a sandwich shop to help him make enough money to pay tuition for medical school. He opened “Pete’s Drive-In: Super Submarines” in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1965. The name changed over the next couple of years (Peter’s Super Submarines, Pete’s Subs, Pete’s Subway) before being named “Subway” in 1972. 

A franchise operation began in 1974 with the opening of a second restaurant in Wallingford, Connecticut. The company then quickly grew to become a worldwide franchise, with the first Subway being opened on the West Coast in 1978, the first outside of North America was opened in Bahrain in 1984 and Subway first opened in the UK in 1996. 

In 2004, they began opening stores in Walmart supercenters, overtaking Mcdonald’s in 2005. In 2015 it became the world’s fastest-growing franchise. It’s also the largest single-brand restaurant chain, and the largest operator in the world, with 1,012 more restaurants than McDonald’s. 

Subway has been in decline since 2016, closing hundreds of restaurants over the years, and then was hit hard during the Covid-19 pandemic. They now have 21,147 locations and as of 2023 are in the process of selling the company to private ownership for $10 billion. 

Famous Subway Trademarks

Though it had a few different names in the early days, Subway has largely remained unchanged in terms of its name, logos, and branding. The franchise has registered 134 trademarks so far with USPTO. Let’s take a look at some of their most famous trademarks, registered by Subway IP LLC. 

Subway

The wordmark “Subway” was the first thing that DeLuca trademarked in 1974, despite having had three names for the business prior to this. He must have been confident that “Subway” was the name to stay. It was filed for a trademark in 1974 but wasn’t registered until 1981. It has been updated through the years to cover:

  • Restaurant services
  • Clothing with company logo, namely, caps, hats, visors, long and short sleeve t-shirts, denim shirts, collared shirts, polo shirts, sweatshirts, twill shirts, wind shirts, flannel shorts, flannel pants, sweat pants, fleece jackets, infant bibs not of paper, infant one-piece garments, socks
  • Magnetically encoded electronic debit and stored value cards
  • Providing online databases featuring information relating to employer and employees and place of employment; assistance in business management within the framework of a franchise contract; providing a portal in the field of franchise services featuring business management assistance in the establishment and operation of restaurants for communication and collaboration relating to our business partners
  • Computer technical support services, namely, 24/7 service desk of help desk services related to customized tools and applications, and their interaction with IT infrastructure, operating systems, database systems, and web applications; installation, maintenance, and repair of computer software related to customized tools and applications; IT consulting services related to customized tools and applications
  • Backpacks; duffle bags; sack packs, namely, drawstring bags used as backpacks; tote bags; book bags; drawstring bags; duffel bags; sling bags
  • Cups; double wall cups; double wall cups with lids; double wall cups with lids and straws; drinking cups sold with lids therefor
  • Beverages, namely, fruit juices, vegetable juices, soft drinks, bottled drinking water, non-alcoholic tea-flavored beverages, and non-alcoholic coffee-flavored beverages, all for consumption on or off the premises
  • Collectible toy figures; novelty toy items in the nature of toy food; toy figures; toy food; toy models
  • Eyeliner; make-up; artificial eyelashes; cosmetics and make-up; eye make-up; eyeliner pencils; eyeshadow palettes; facial make-up; false eyelashes; foundation make-up; lip gloss; make-up sets; skin bronzer; liquid eyeliners
  • Downloadable virtual goods, namely, food and beverage items for use in online virtual worlds; downloadable loyalty cards, incentive cards, and reward cards that may be redeemed for or used towards the purchase of menu items; downloadable mobile applications for ordering and managing customer accounts; downloadable multimedia files containing artwork, text, audio and video files and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), namely, food items and beverages
  • Retail store services featuring virtual goods, namely, food and beverage items for use in online virtual worlds; digital retail store services featuring downloadable and non-downloadable virtual goods, namely, food and beverage items
  • Entertainment services, namely, providing online, non-downloadable virtual food and beverage items for use in virtual environments created for entertainment purposes; entertainment services, namely, providing a virtual restaurant environment in which users can interact for recreational, leisure, or entertainment purposes
  • Programming virtual food and beverage items for use in online virtual worlds; computer services, namely, creating an online virtual environment for the purpose of interaction with virtual users
  • Operating a virtual restaurant featuring actual and virtual goods, namely, food and beverages, operating a virtual restaurant online featuring home delivery services of food and beverage items

Subway logo

The first Subway logo was registered in 1989 and largely looks similar to the logo that we all know today. It featured the word “Subway” in all capital letters with an arrow extending left from the bottom of the “S” and an arrow extending right from the top of the “Y” in “SUBWAY.” The first half of the word – “Sub” is in white and the latter half (“way”) is in yellow. The whole word is encased in a black lozenge shape. 

The logo shifted to italics, had a green outline added to the words, and got rid of the black background in 2002. It changed to all green in 2015 and since 2016 it’s reverted back to non-italics with the “Sub” now in yellow and the “way” now in green. It has always featured the arrows though. 

The latest version was filed in 2016, registered in 2017, and covers:

  • Restaurant services, namely, providing of food and beverages for consumption on and off the premises; restaurant services featuring sandwiches; catering services; eat-in and take-out food restaurant services
  • Salads made with various ingredients, namely, fruit, garden, and vegetable salads; milk; potato chips; processed apples
  • Sandwiches and sandwich wraps for consumption on or off the premises; baked goods, namely, cakes, pastries, and cookies for consumption on or off the premises; snacks, namely, pretzels, corn chips, tortilla chips, puffed corn curls, popped popcorn, cakes, pastries, cookies; dressings for salads, salad dressings used on salads, combination meals consisting primarily of a sandwich and also including a snack item, namely, pretzels, corn chips, tortilla chips, puffed corn curls, popped popcorn, cakes, pastries or cookies and a soft drink for consumption on or off the premises, coffee, tea, iced tea
  • Beverages, namely, fruit juices, vegetable juices, soft drinks, bottled drinking water, non-alcoholic tea-flavored beverages, and non-alcoholic coffee-flavored beverages, all for consumption on or off the premises
  • Consumer loyalty services for commercial, promotional, and advertising purposes, namely, providing incentive rewards programs for customers through the issuance and processing of customer loyalty points and credits and loyalty cards for the purchase of goods and services and promoting the sales of goods and services by means of providing contests, sweepstakes, games, and prizes; promoting the sale of goods and services through the administration of an incentive rewards program enabling participants to obtain discounts and complimentary goods and services through membership, all of the foregoing in the field of restaurant services; online ordering services in the field of restaurant take-out and delivery; retail store services relating to food and drink
  • Restaurant services, namely, providing food and beverages for consumption on and off the premises; restaurant services featuring sandwiches; catering services; eat-in and take-out food restaurant services; restaurants featuring home delivery
  • Collectible toy figures; novelty toy items in the nature of toy food; toy figures; toy models

Related: How to trademark your business logo

Subway Eat Fresh

“Eat Fresh” is perhaps Subway’s most popular slogan which has been used by the franchise for a long time. They’ve used “eat fresh” to indicate the fresh ingredients in their sandwiches and the unique system in which customers can see their toppings and choose which ones are included in their subs. They have trademarked both “Eat Fresh” and “Subway Eat Fresh”. The latter was the first to be trademarked in 2002 and applies to:

  • Restaurant services; catering services; eat-in and take-out food services

Mama DeLuca’s Fast, Delicious Pizza

In 2016, Subway added pizza to their menu as part of their offerings. This range of pizzas was called “Mama DeLuca’s Fast, Delicious Pizza”. This is also a separate restaurant and takeaway operating in Lonsdale and Montgomery in Minnesota – though it states on its logo that it’s “powered by Subway”. 

Mama DeLuca’s Fast, Delicious Pizza features a logo that consists of the words “MAMA DELUCA’S FAST, DELICIOUS PIZZA” found within a stylized slice of pizza. The words “FAST, DELICIOUS PIZZA” are separated by a thin line below the word “DELUCA’S” and a second thin line below the words “FAST, DELICIOUS PIZZA”. Two leaves are found above the word “MAMA”. Registered in 2016, it applies to:

  • Vegetable salads; chicken wings
  • Pizza, calzone, breadsticks, pretzels, and bakery desserts, namely, cakes, pies, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, donuts, and chocolate confections for consumption on or off the premises
  • Restaurant services, catering services, take-out restaurant services

Subway Grab & Go

Subway launched a new initiative in 2020 where they would prepare their sandwiches fresh daily by franchisees and then distribute them to retail locations. This provided their customers with a quick convenient way to “grab and go” with a fresh Subway sandwich. These meals were available in airports, convenience stores, hospitals, gas stations, and casinos. “Grab & Go” is now available in more than 400 locations across North America. Subway has trademarked both a logo and a character mark for this phrase. The character mark was trademarked in 2021 and applies to:

  • Salads made with various ingredients, namely, fruit, garden, and vegetable salads; milk; potato chips
  • Sandwiches and sandwich wraps; baked goods, namely, cakes, pastries, and cookies; Snacks, namely, pretzels, corn chips, tortilla chips, puffed corn curls, popped popcorn
  • Mobile vending in the field of food and drink; retail vending stand services featuring sandwiches, salads, snacks, baked goods, beverages
  • Restaurant services; preparation of food and beverages, fast-food restaurant services; Self-service restaurants; take-out restaurant services

Sandwich Artist

Subway had trademarked the phrase “Sanwich Artist” – the name given to its employees. The role of a Sandwich Artist is to prepare and serve Subway sandwiches as well as meet and greet guests and deliver exceptional customer service. They use many other phrases and campaigns to play into the “artist” theme such as “our ingredients, your masterpiece”, “color it with flavor”, and “choose your canvas”. Subway trademarked the Sandwich Artist phrase in 1992 and has updated it to now include: 

  • Restaurant services
  • Role-playing toys in the nature of play sets for children to imitate real-life occupations; toy bakeware and cookware

Subway Cares Foundation

Subway has created a charitable arm of their franchise called “Subway Cares Foundation”. The foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that aims to help communities and make a global impact. Building on the brand’s legacy, they have fed first responders, assisted in the aftermath of natural disasters, sponsored sports teams, and ensure that youth have greater access to nutritious food, tuition assistance, and opportunities to help them grow. Subway Cares Foundation is a character mark trademarked in 2022 and applies to:

  • Charitable foundation services, namely, providing financial assistance for programs and services of others; charitable fundraising; charitable fundraising services; online charitable fundraising

Wrapping up

Operating for over 57 years, Subway has managed to keep up with the pace of its quickly expanding business with the trademarking of its assets. They’ve registered over 134 trademarks and have been sure to cover the basics such as their name, logo, and key slogans. But they’ve also registered trademarks for most of their product names, customer incentives, phrases, campaigns, charitable arms, reward schemes, and even employee names. 

Registering their assets and IP with USPTO can save them a lot of money in future legal battles. As a business that’s worth $17 billion and makes $11 billion in annual sales, it’s definitely worth protecting itself. 

Check out our other posts on famous trademarks here.

Xavier Morales, Esq.

About the Author:

Xavier Morales, Esq.

Mr. Morales founded this trademark law practice in January 2007 with the goal of providing intellectual property expertise to entrepreneurs and businesses around the country. Since then, he has filed more than 6,000 trademarks with the USPTO. You can learn more about Xavier here.

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