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Subway, the sandwich company, wins lawsuit against Vancouver cannabis shop Budway

A Vancouver cannabis shop is looking at a hefty bill for using a logo similar to that of Subway.
A Cannabis shop in Vancouver, BC, has lost a copyright case against sandwich giant Subway. A court ruled Budway's logo was too similar to the chain's logo.

A Vancouver cannabis shop is looking at a hefty bill for using a logo similar to that of Subway.

Budway, Cannabis and Wellness store just lost a copyright ruling to the massive sandwich chain, with a judge ruling the logo they've used for the past year or so was too similar to the iconic yellow and green letters with arrows used by Subway for decades. The case went forward despite Budway's representatives never responding. In fact, one (a compassion society from the east coast) no longer existed.

In the case, Subway's lawyer cited Reddit and Instagram posts as evidence.

"The Instagram posts reproduced in [Subway]’s affidavit also show the use by @budwayonclark of a mascot in the form of a submarine sandwich filled with cannabis leaves, with what are apparently bloodshot and half-opened eyes. This mascot appears in the video clip, smoking what is presumably a joint, with the legend It’s the way, bud appearing below it," writes Judge Nicholas McHaffie.


A post shared by Budway (@budwayonclark)

One of the issues brought forward was the sale of edibles. Subway's copyright of their logo explicitly states it covers food and they draw a line between the baked goods available by both businesses.

"As Subway notes, although 'their ingredients may differ, both parties offer foodstuffs and edible products to their consumers,'" McHaffie writes.

Another issue they brought forward was the "harm to [Subway's] goodwill."

"...the respondents (Budway) appear to be operating a cannabis dispensary without a provincial license to do so, and from a location that [Subway's lawyer] fairly describes as having a 'somewhat downmarket exterior appearance,'" McHaffie writes.

The province does not list Budway as a licensed cannabis retail outlet on its website.

In his ruling, McHaffie noted the copyright claim passed muster, which relies on judging whether a casual consumer in a rush could consider the two businesses linked. He also noted its similarity to another case he ruled on between Toys R Us, the toy store, and Herbs R Us, which also sold cannabis products.

In that case Toys R Us won, and McHaffie's judgment this time also favoured the company making the claim. He ordered Budway, and owner William Matovu, to stop using the logo and destroy any products with that logo on it. Subway is also owed $15,000 in damages and $25,000 in court costs.