UPDATE (WKOW) — Owning a small business and making small chocolate treat was always a dream of Syovata Edari. That dream became a reality last year when she opened a chocolatier naming it "CocoVaa," the ‘Vaa’ part stemming from a name her father has called her since a young age.
"It’s his term of endearment for me," she said.
But that name is at the center of a lawsuit after Mars Inc. said it’s "confusingly similar" to a supplement it makes called CocoaVia.
Edari says she went through the long process of trademarking her business’s name.
"In December, my trademark was published for opposition and they (Mars Inc.) had 30 days to oppose it and they didn’t do anything," Edari said.
She was granted the legal rights to the name in March but soon was served notice she was being sued by Mars Inc.
"It’s sad they’re doing this," she explained.
The national corporation argues CocoVaa could be mistaken for a supplement that’s spelled differently: CocoaVia. But that’s still too similar for Mars Inc. that says it could hurt their sales. It’s an argument Edari says is unfounded.
"Even where they have their other chocolates in the candy isle of the store, you would not find CocoaVia. You can only get CocoaVia in the supplement isle," she explained. "We don’t operate in the same world. They’re a supplement. I’m a confection."
The arguably different products makes Edani believe her small business has fallen victim to a bigger corporation.
"My situation here is the classic case of trademark bullying," she said. "They have five lawyers on this case from Chicago to New York."
But the trial lawyer by trade remains fearless as she plans to defend herself when she gets her day in court.
"I’m not going to change it until a judge says that I have to," she said. "I don’t even dream of becoming what Mars Inc. is. I’m working at a loss."
27 News reached out to Mars Inc. for a comment but so far, has not heard back from the company.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Candy maker Mars Inc. is suing a Wisconsin woman over chocolates she is selling under a name the company says is "confusingly similar" to its cocoa extract supplements called CocoaVia.
The Virginia-based company says in a federal lawsuit filed March 24 that the chocolates sold in Madison by Syovata Edari will likely "confuse and deceive consumers" because they’re branded as CocoVaa. The company contends the similarity in the brand names hurts Mars’ reputation and Edari should be barred from using CocoVaa on her products.
Edari said Tuesday the lawsuit is "trademark bullying" and noted her chocolates are distinctly different than the supplements Mars sells.
Edari says she picked her brand name because "Vaa" was her father’s nickname for her as a child. Her trademark was registered March 14.