WeWork Cos. is escalating a legal fight against UrWork with a US lawsuit, accusing the rapidly expanding Chinese rival of infringing on its trademarks.
The US startup, which has been valued at about $20 billion, filed a lawsuit against UrWork in New York, saying it copied parts of its name and logo.
That follows a separate legal action taken against the Chinese company in London with
WeWork accusing it of “passing off,” which can take place when one business misrepresents their services as being the product of another.
UrWork rejected the claims in a statement sent to Bloomberg.
Shared offices are gaining
in popularity as bootstrapped startups seek to lower costs and collaborate with peers. The legal salvo sets up a clash between two startups racing to open locations around the world, renting desks, conference rooms and other workplace essentials to teams and entrepreneurs in urban centres.
While WeWork remains the largest global provider of such spaces, UrWork is the leader in its home market and preparing to enter London, Singapore, New York and Los Angeles.
“WeWork has invested substantial time and money building a superior brand to ensure that our brand name is uniquely associated with WeWork and its offerings,” a WeWork spokes-
man said. “UrWork has no physical presence and no brand equity in the United States, so there is no reason for them to enter our home market with such a confusingly similar name.”
The Chinese startup’s name shared defining characteristics with WeWork’s trademark, a two-syllable word beginning with a two-letter pronoun and joined with the word “Work,’’ it said. It also claimed UrWork’s logo, mobile app icon and office design resembled its own.
WeWork and UrWork will increasingly encounter each other as they pursue global expansion.