Mayhall Fondren Blaize

Trademark disputes are common in business litigation

Intellectual property disputes are a regular source of business litigation cases in Louisiana and other states. This may be an over-litigated area in some respects because some trademark and patent owners will sue if there is even a slight suggestion of a similarity with another's mark or product. Deciding what is an actual infringement, therefore, is sometimes a crucial stage of the process because it determines whether business litigation of the issue will be necessary.

One current trademark dispute illustrates what may be an overreaction by one company to another entity's use of its own chosen mark. Wawa Inc. is a large chain of combination quick-food marts and gas stations. It recently decided to bring a trademark infringement case against a single store with one unit that uses the name Dawa Food Mart.

The Dawa store is owned by a Korean individual who said that the name means "welcome" in the Korean language. When asked why Wawa needed to file litigation against a single unit store using only a remotely similar-sounding name, a spokesperson said that the company wanted to protect its customers from any unnecessary confusion and to protect its brand name. The latter reason would seem to be the only remotely valid one because the likelihood of customers of the Wawa chain being confused by a single Dawa store, appears nonexistent.

Wawa adopts the modus operandi of many entities that are highly protective of their company trademark. They are super-protective and will err on the side of filing a suit. That is something that seasoned business litigation counsel will look for in representing a new entity that wishes to file a new trademark application. In Louisiana and elsewhere, it is important to make a thorough search of the registered marks to make sure that the client is choosing a commercial signature that will withstand the test of time.

Source: techdirt.com, "Wawa Versus Dawa: Trademark Dispute Blamed On A Need To Police That Doesn't Exist", Timothy Geigner, Feb. 6, 2017

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