When a longtime owner of a pet services company in Virginia discovered a new shop was opening with a similar name, she did some research.
"Somebody sent us a picture of the storefront sign that had the name "Woofy’s." So, immediately we were on alert to see what was happening and who these people were," said Amy Reed, the co-owner of Woofie's in Ashburn.
Reed and her colleagues did some digging and found a website for Woofy’s, which advertised designer puppies.
They emailed posing as a potential buyer asking about a highly desirable, and expensive, French bulldog puppy. An email came back from the store manager, Ayman Koshok.
When Reed Googled Koshok, she found something far worse than any trademark issue.
Koshok and his brother, Kareem Koshok, had managed a pet store before — specifically, the Petland store that lost its franchise agreement after 14 dead rabbits were found in the freezer during a Humane Society investigation.
The brothers were later arrested for animal abuse at the store. Ayman Koshok had a court date for the charges last week.
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“It has really gone beyond the business side of a trademark issue. It has really become a bigger issue, knowing these people are potentially setting up another business,” Reed said. “They have absolutely no business running any pet store whatsoever.”
Reed’s attorney sent a cease-and-desist order demanding that Ayman Koshok stop using the “Woofys” name, take down the sign and destroy any other uses of the word.
Ayman Koshok said in a statement Thursday that he had done nothing wrong.
“With regard to the trademark infringement accusation, this absurd allegation has no merit," he said in an email. "About my pending trial, I am innocent of any wrongdoing, and am confident I will be acquitted once the legal system is allowed to take its course.”
Sue Bell, the executive director of Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, sent a lengthy letter to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday.
"Taking long-overdue steps to stop these bad pet stores from doing business in Fairfax County is as much about animal welfare as it is consumer protection and taxpayer waste," she wrote.