Amidst the rush of opening a new restaurant, the Lee family has another challenge to contend with: changing its name.
One of Huntsville’s newest businesses, Wabora Come and See opened on September 4 with many locals excited to have a sushi restaurant downtown. But soon it will have a new sign, a step the owners have been forced to take under a trademark infringement complaint from the Wabora Restaurant in Bracebridge.
Doppler received a letter from Michael Tamblyn, a lawyer representing the owners of the Bracebridge business, stating that, “For a period of time, Yong and Cindy Lee worked at Wabora Restaurant, before abruptly leaving in the spring of this year. Our clients subsequently learned that the Lees intended to open a restaurant in Huntsville, under the name of ‘Wabora Come and See Restaurant.’ Please note that the word ‘wabora’ means ‘come and see’ in the Korean language. Our clients advised Mr and Mrs Lee that they were not authorized to use the Wabora name, or any variation on that name, in association with their restaurant. However Mr and Mrs Lee ignored this advice and began advertising and promoting a restaurant under the name of Wabora Come and See…”
Tamblyn forwarded a copy of the trademark details, which were registered in 2010, and added that the Lees have been notified in writing that “they are required to change the name of their restaurant, as they are in breach of our clients’ statutory and common law rights. If they do not comply, we have been instructed to institute legal proceedings against them, in order to compel them to respect our clients’ legal rights. We ask that you inform your subscribers, that Mr and Mrs Lee’s restaurant has no association whatsoever with the Wabora Restaurant in Bracebridge, that the use of the Wabora name is unauthorized and that it’s use by the Lees is being legally challenged.”
In a conversation with Doppler, Cindy Lee said that she and her husband, Yong, registered the name Wabora Come and See in 2015 and the Bracebridge owners, one of whom is Yong’s sister, voiced no objections at the time. “She already knows that we are going to use the name, at the time she didn’t say anything,” said Lee. But once construction started on their new business, “then she said you can’t use it.”
Lee said they left the restaurant in Bracebridge due to some conflicts and with an eye to their own future retirement. She said, “I feel horrible. I feel very bad (about the request to change the restaurant’s name). Because it’s my husband’s sister, we have been working for her eight years…”
The name of the Huntsville restaurant will be changing soon. “I don’t want to deal with all the legal action,” said Lee. “I don’t want a headache, I’m busy already, I don’t have time for that.”
And in the meantime, they will work out some of the unforeseen challenges that come with every new business. Their liquor license is pending, which they hope to have in place soon. “We love it so much in Huntsville, we wanted to come so we been looking around for almost four years trying to find a spot in Huntsville,” said Lee. “Even if there is any inconvenience would you please ask people to be patient, we will work on it.”
Related story: Wabora Come and See; similar name, different owners
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