The proprietor of Ewhamedia has been running a private business that provides services including performance planning, pictures and videos mainly to Ewha students. He has also been running the Web site (http://www.ewha.com/) under the name “Ewha”.
Ewha Hak-dang filed a lawsuit against Ewhamedia for the usage of “Ewha,” as it is a violation of Unfair Competition Prevention Act, an act enacted to prevent illegal use of a firm name or trademark and trade secret piracy. It also defines the act of using similar signs of other businesses that can cause confusion between separate entities as an act of unfair competition.
The justice department decided that the name “Ewha” represents Ewha Womans University in that consumers generally recognize the school when seeing the name. The Court reasoned that Ewha Hakdang has been using the name since the 1930s, and 73.9 percent of respondents on a brand recognition survey in 2004 answered that they think of Ewha Womans University upon seeing the name “Ewha.” The department also ruled that the defendant’s business conduct can cause confusion since he does performance planning near the university and rents a theater affiliated with the university.
Following the ruling, Ewhamedia could not use the front sign, the advertisement and the blog that include the word “Ewha” in its title. The consent of Ewha Womans University is now necessary in order to use “Ewha” in a title of separate institutions.
Ewha Womans University initially filed the lawsuit in May 2010 regarding the issue. Although Ewhamedia has maintained that the word “Ewha” is merely a common noun meaning pear blossoms, and its business conduct does not overlap with education programs, the justice department ruled in favor of the plaintiff in both the first and the second trial.
“The final ruling enabled us to have standards to distinguish and prevent acts of those who run businesses under the name ‘Ewha’ that can potentially mislead consumers,” said an official at the Office of University Planning and Coordination.
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