New York's renowned supermarket chain, Wegmans, is facing a legal battle as a popular sushi restaurant has accused them of stealing their concept for a newly opened fish market.

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Osakana, located in the East Village of New York, is suing Wegmans, alleging that their Astor Place location, Sakanaya, bears an "uncanny and confusingly similar resemblance" to their restaurant. The founder of Osakana, Yuji Haraguchi, claims that Wegmans breached non-disclosure and non-compete agreements, which were signed through Culinary Collaborations, Wegmans' fish broker.

According to the lawsuit, three companies involved in the acquisition process of Osakana—Culimer USA, Red Shell Sushi, and Culinary Collaborations—gained access to trade secrets, practices, and financial information under false intentions. These companies allegedly used this information to develop Wegmans' Sakanaya, meaning "fish market" in Japanese. Wegmans, however, denies the allegations and is confident that they are without merit.

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The legal action, filed in New York County Supreme Court, highlights the alleged fraudulent business practices surrounding the case. Haraguchi claims that Sakanaya's aggressive publicity campaign directly targeted Osakana's customers. Furthermore, he states that Wegmans presented him with a fraudulent partnership agreement, which was later revoked. Haraguchi also contends that this is not the first instance of Wegmans allegedly stealing business assets, citing a previous incident involving Genji Sushi. He suggests that the similarities between Wegmans Sushi and Whole Foods Sushi are a result of this alleged pattern.

Employees from Wegmans visited Osakana for training purposes, closely observing the operations of Haraguchi's restaurant, including the techniques used for cutting and selling fish by the quarter pound and assembling sushi and sashimi boxes. Employees from Osakana claim to have directly taught Wegmans' representatives, who later used this information to open Sakanaya after ignoring emails from Haraguchi for several weeks.

The lawsuit accuses Wegmans of disregarding their agreements and engaging in unfair competition. Haraguchi's lawyers argue that Wegmans preferred to profit from what they allege is the theft of Mr. Haraguchi's life's work as a minority business owner, rather than competing fairly.

As the legal battle unfolds, both Osakana and Wegmans are preparing to present their cases in court.

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