Welcome to Above the Law’s newest feature, Fun With Fine Print. This occasional column will chronicle especially clever or awful examples of legalese, fine print, disclaimers, disclosures, and the like. Our readers who spend so much time toiling over contractual language, drafting it beforehand or litigating it after the fact, will hopefully appreciate — and contribute to — this feature.

We’ll start things off with an example of infamous fine print. Earlier this year, Subway got torpedoed over its regrettable response to a customer complaint. After Australian teenager Matt Corby complained that his “footlong” Subway sub was a mere eleven inches, Subway invoked the following fine print: “With regards to the size of the bread and calling it a footlong, ‘SUBWAY FOOTLONG’ is a registered trademark as a descriptive name for the sub sold in Subway® Restaurants and not intended to be a measurement of length.” Personally speaking, I think eleven inches is more than enough — but based on the uproar and litigation, maybe I’m in the minority.

Now let’s look at legalese worth celebrating, for its cleverness and its clarity. It also comes from a fast-food provider….

Earlier this year, I received the following coupon from one of my favorite fast-food restaurants, Chipotle (also the source of Joe Patrice’s lunch today):

In case you’re having a hard time reading from the graphic, here’s the text of what the Albany Times-Union called Chipotle’s “cheeky” coupon:

Offer valid only at participating locations, which in this case means all locations. Not to be combined with other offers or somehow cleverly duplicated. Limit one card per visit. Please present this card to the cashier, but don’t be surprised when they keep it. Cash value 1/100th of one cent, which is pretty much nothing. This is the fine print, why are you still reading this? Really, this is getting silly, go eat. ©2011 Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Kudos to the Chipotle in-house lawyers who drafted this amusing yet useful language. Treat yourselves to burritos with extra guacamole tonight.

Do you have an example of creative or crappy legalese you’d like to share with us? Please send it our way by email, subject line “Fun With Fine Print.” We look forward to your submissions.

Subway’s Amazingly Stupid Response To Footlong Controversy [Copyranter / BuzzFeed]
Subway Delivered A Serious Response To The 11-Inch ‘Footlong’ Crisis [Business Insider]
Chipotle’s cheeky coupon [Table Hopping / Albany Times-Union]


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