U.S. startup WeWork, valued at approximately $20 billion, filed a lawsuit against UrWork in New York on Tuesday. The suit claims UrWork copied parts of the startup’s name and logo. This follows a separate legal action taken against the Chinese company in London with WeWork accusing it of “passing off”, which is when one business misrepresents their services as being the products or services of another. UrWork rejected these claims in an official statement to Bloomberg.
“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. 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 shares several defining characteristics with WeWork’s trademark. More specifically, both names contain a two-syllable word beginning with a two-letter pronoun that ends with the word “Work”, according to the filing. WeWork also claims that UrWork’s logo, mobile app icon, and even their office design is too similar to their own for it to be merely coincidental.
WeWork has amassed funds for a global push that has taken the startup to nearly fifteen countries. They acquired $4.4 billion from SoftBank Group Corp. and its Vision Fun, rumored to be a $20 billion evaluation. The company also unveiled intentions to buy Singapore’s SpaceMob and open their first locations in Southeast Asia. A $500 million investment with SoftBank and Hony Capital to expand its business in China soon followed, which would put it right in UrWork’s neck of the woods.
UrWork is also well-funded, raising $236 million over the past few months to establish over 160 locations across 32 cities worldwide over the next three years, according to its website. This month, UrWork announced an investment in Indonesia’s ReWork. Whether ReWork will be added to the lawsuit remains to be seen.