Wawa loyalists in Paterson, N.J., will soon no longer have to risk mistakenly stepping into the wrong convenience store.
The city’s Dawa Food Mart will change its name to settle a lawsuit brought by the Pennsylvania-based Wawa Inc., according to court records. The settlement was first reported Sunday by the Paterson Times website.
Under the settlement, agreed to in May, Dawa was given 90 days to change its name or pay damages.
Dawa owner Mike Han said Monday that he was “working on” changing his store’s name but declined to comment further.
In January, Wawa, in a suit filed in federal court in Camden, argued the Dawa name was nearly identical to its own and infringed on its trademark. The suit argued that Wawa customers were “likely to be confused or deceived” that Dawa was connected or affiliated with Wawa and that such a perception would damage Wawa’s reputation.
“Defendant’s use of Dawa as a name and mark in connection with identical services, over which Wawa has no control, irreparably harms Wawa by precluding it from exercising full control over its hard-earned business reputation and goodwill,” the company wrote in the lawsuit.
Han initially disagreed and said at the time that the name in Korean means “everyone is welcome.”
“I’m a Christian. I just want to open my arms to the community people,” he said. Han said he had been using the name for the store for three years since opening, but had recently started receiving letters from Wawa. The store sells fried chicken, pizza, and sandwiches.
Wawa spokeswoman Lori Bruce and Salvatore Guerriero, a Philadelphia-based attorney representing the chain in the case, did not return phone calls Monday. Eugene Meyers, a New York City-based attorney representing Dawa, also did not return a call.
Bruce previously said Wawa offered financial assistance to Dawa in changing its name, but it was not clear from the settlement whether Wawa would follow through on that proposal.
“At Wawa, we have an obligation to protect consumers from any likelihood of confusion that may occur in the marketplace and to protect the brand name, goodwill and reputation that we’ve worked so hard to build over the past 50 years," Bruce said in a statement when the suit was filed. “We wish them nothing but success, just without our name included.”
Wawa does not have any locations in Paterson. The chain’s closest store to the city is in Garfield.