Wawa Sued A Store Called Dawa, Claiming Customers Might Be Confused

Image courtesy of Google Maps

If you want customers to feel comfortable trying your store, call it something that’s sort of familiar. A retailer in New Jersey is accused of picking a name that’s a little too familiar, calling its store Dawa and using a logo similar to the chain Wawa.

The question was, did Dawa name its stores that for some reason significant to its owners, or was it trying to capitalize on the well-known Wawa name?

In court [PDF], Wawa accused the chain of the former, but the store’s owner told the Associated Press that the word is a greeting in Korean that loosely means “welcome.” The idea was to give the message that everyone is welcome in the store.

Wawa, for its part, gets its name from the Lenape name for the Canada goose, and the company says that it’s just trying to protect its trademark. The company also claims that the design of the “Dawa” logo is identical to the Wawa one.

“Wawa’s consumers, upon encountering, purchasing, using or otherwise receiving [Dawa’s] services, are likely to be confused and deceived and are likely to falsely believe in the existence of some association between Defendant or its services and Plaintiffs, all to the injury of Plaintiffs,” Wawa’s lawyers wrote in the initial complaint.

Dawa has formally agreed to change its name to something else [PDF], though it hasn’t yet announced what the new name will be.

“We wish [Dawa] nothing but success,” a company spokeswoman told the Associated Press. “Just without our name included.”

While Dawa found itself in legal trouble, other stores with derivative names have happily co-existed with the businesses from which they derived their names for decades. MLive took advantage of the national media attention on Boston’s 6-Twelve to highlight the backstory of its own 6-Twelve.

That store’s name comes from a family feud, when one brother wouldn’t sell another a plot of land across the street from the family business, instead selling it to a local 7-Eleven franchisee.

In retaliation, the brother who ran the family’s store renamed it 6-Twelve, though the two stores have evolved to have complementary inventories, with one selling Slurpees and hot food and the other selling groceries and liquor. There’s another 6-Twelve store in Raleigh, NC, and an entire small chain of them in Maryland.