The owner of a store named DaWA in Paterson, N.J., is standing up to threats from Wawa Inc., which has gone to court to order the store to change its name — saying customers are "likely to be confused and deceived" that DaWA is associated with Wawa.
Mike Han, owner of DaWA, is having none of it.
"I'm not going to change the name," he said Friday. "This is my place. It's DaWA food."
Han, who is Korean, said the name in Korean means "everyone is welcome."
"Everybody's welcome," he said. "I'm a Christian. I just want to open my arms to the community people."
Wawa, in a suit filed in federal court in Camden on Jan. 27, said Han has ignored repeated requests to change the name, which Wawa argues is nearly identical to its. The company, in the suit, also alleges DaWA will diminish the value of Wawa's trademark.
"The WAWA mark receives significant unsolicited media coverage," the company said in the suit, "and has been seen and heard in movies and television shows, such as the popular sitcom The Goldbergs, as well as periodicals such as Harvard Business Review, where a case study featured Wawa as a strong brand with a noted and devoted following."
Salvatore Guerriero, a Philadelphia attorney representing Wawa, declined to comment Friday.
Wawa spokeswoman Lori Bruce said the company offered financial assistance to DaWA to change the store's signage.
"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.
"Please know that we reached out to this business owner on multiple occasions to resolve this matter privately and amicably. We wish them nothing but success, just without our name included."
Han said that his store opened nearly three years ago, but that he just started receiving letters from Wawa in recent months. The store sells fried chicken, pizza, and sandwiches.
On Yelp, DaWA has four stars out of two reviews, one of which describes the place as "a convenience store, taken up a notch with hot food."
Wawa has previously taken on businesses with similar names.
In the late 1990s in Lehigh County, a judge ordered a store named "Haha" to change its name after Wawa filed a suit. Haha's owner relented, but said after the ruling: "We only lost the court battle. We won the war. Everybody knows we're here."