A lawsuit has been filed in a New Jersey district court alleging that the name and logo of a Paterson convenience store were chosen to mislead consumers by making it appear that the store was part of, or connected with, a large chain of similar stores. Pennsylvania-based Wawa Inc. operates more than 700 stores in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Florida, and attorneys representing the retail chain say that they are only suing Dawa Food Inc. because their attempts to resolve the matter amicably have been rebuffed.
The Korean proprietor of Dawa Food Inc. says that he chose his store’s name because it means welcome in his native language, but Wawa’s attorneys say that these arguments are belied by his selection of a logo that is ‘virtually identical” to the one used by their clients. Wawa is seeking unspecified damages for trademark infringement and dilution, unfair competition and false designation of origin.
Wawa’s stores have featured in a popular ABC situation comedy, and the rapid expansion of the chain has been covered by publications including the Harvard Business Review. The retailer’s attorneys claim that the owner of Dawa Inc. was attempting to cash in on this popularity and success when he chose the name of his convenience store, and they point out that the two businesses operate in the same market sector and offer similar goods and services.
Attorneys with trademark law experience may encourage their clients to settle legal disputes like this one whenever possible to avoid complex and potentially costly lawsuits. However, litigation could be unavoidable when infringers ignore requests to cease and desist. Intellectual property is a crucial asset for many businesses, and attorneys may pursue all legal options when their brands have been misappropriated.