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We live in a world of innovation and inspiration. Every day, we see new products riffing on older ones, and apps that are purporting to be the next Instagram for Snapchat inspired by Vine.

But when does something cease to innovate and become a simple knock-off? Would you consider “Word・Press” a different web service from “WordPress”? How about if someone opened up a hamburger joint called “McDonalds” instead of “McDonald’s”? Well one izakaya in Hiroshima, Japan tested out this first example for us, and found that simply slipping a dot into its name didn’t allow it to get around copyright and trademark laws.

A small izakaya called “Wara・Wara” (note the dot!) in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture had lawyers knocking on its door on January 13 when it was reported that the name of the restaurant was basically identical to popular izakaya chain “WaraWara” (no dot!).


Considering that the nearest WaraWara, located outside Fukuyama Station, is only 600m away, we’re not surprised that this establishment drew negative attention, as customers could easily head into the wrong joint by mistake. The izakayas use different colors and fonts for their signs, but both feature little more than the kanji character for laugh (笑) written twice in white and in a hand-written style.

When interviewed, the owner of the independent restaurant said that when they first opened, there weren’t any WaraWara locations in the area. “We thought that if we added a dot between the two characters it would be OK,” he added.

Sadly, dots, especially those as small as the one on their sign, are rarely enough to keep the lawyers away.

Following news reports about the dotty restaurant, Japanese net users have their fair share to say as well:

“Well WaraWara itself is good at making knock-offs too.”

“How can someone like this run a business…”

“It’s like saying Mc・Donald is OK…”

For those of you who read Japanese, here’s Kyodo News’ full report on the incident:

Well, now you know. If you’re planning to start you own company anytime soon, be sure rule out names like “Goo・gle”, “Ya・hoo!” and “Face・book”!

Sources: 47news, h/t Hamachi Kikou
Screenshots: YouTube