Wawa Lawsuit May Lead to Prison for “Wawa Curry” Owner
Updated on Wednesday, December 2nd: Owner Yogi Patel says he received an extension on the contempt order, and will have the changes made by next week.
Original: A Wawa lawsuit may end up sending a man to prison.
No, the company has not grown so powerful that it has prosecutorial powers. But it did sue Yogi Patel, a restaurant owner in Kissimmee, Florida, over his restaurant: Wawa Curry Taste of India.
Wawa, which owns a trademark on the term — a Lenni Lenape word for goose — sued Patel to get him to change the name of his restaurant. Patel told the Orlando Sentinel that “wawa” means good job or congratulations in Gujarati Indian, his native language.
“Defendant’s use of the name and mark WAWA CURRY, as set forth above, is likely to damage and materially diminish the value of the name and mark WAWA and result in Defendant unfairly benefiting and profiting from the reputation and goodwill that is represented by the name and mark WAWA,” the lawsuit read.
Wawa has been in business in Florida since 2011. Patel agreed to change the name, altering signage from Wawa Curry Taste of India to Wava Curry Taste of India. Wawa, as one might expect, was not satiated with the minor change. Additionally, the name remains Wawa Curry Taste of India on the website and Facebook page.
As a result, Judge Gregory Presnell held Patel in contempt of court. He ordered Patel to pay Wawa $5,000 in attorneys’ fees and “destroy and/or deliver up to Wawa for destruction or other disposition, all signage, literature, advertising, menus, and other materials, in its possession, custody, or control, bearing the designations WAVA, WAWA, WAWA CURRY, WAWA CURRY TASTE OF INDIA, and/or WAWACURRYTASTEOFINDIA.COM.” Patel was ordered to comply with the judge’s ruling by today, or he could be imprisoned.
Philadelphia magazine could not reach Patel. “For a small thing like this they want to put me prison?” Patel told the Sentinel; he added the Texas company that created his website was supposed to take it down for him.
Currently, the site and Facebook page are still up. Patel told the Sentinel he was changing the name to just “Curry Taste of India.”