The battle for dominance in the global co-working market is heating up and for Beijing-based provider UrWork the contest with its US rival WeWork could be turning into a grudge match.
WeWork issued a statement on Friday seeming to claim victory in a legal battle to keep UrWork from opening a centre displaying the Chinese startup’s name in the New York market.
“Today we achieved an important victory,” WeWork was quoted as saying in a Bloomberg report. “We are pleased this case is moving forward well so quickly.” The reference is to a suit that the $20 billion US company filed against UrWork and the use of its English handle earlier this month in New York.
The Bloomberg account indicated that the court ruled on Friday that UrWork’s US partner, Serendipity Labs will not be allowed to use the UrWork name outside of the China market.
UrWork Plans to Keep Up the Struggle
UrWork, which was founded by former China Vanke executive Mao Daqing in 2015, was quick to question the news report.
“We do not comment on an ongoing litigation,” a UrWork spokesperson told Mingtiandi. “However, we do want to make it clear that this consented order is reached between WeWork and Serendipity Labs.”
The Chinese flexible office player, stated that its partner, Serendipity Labs, which owns a majority stake in and operates the the centre in Fosun-owned New York office tower 28 Liberty, “has voluntarily agreed to temporarily halt their use of the URWork marks during the pendency of this lawsuit.”
“URWork will continue to litigate the matter,” the UrWork representative promised, while adding that, “We also remain committed to New York in our global expansion strategy. ”
WeWork Finds UrWork Name Strangely Familiar
WeWork brought the case against the creation of a UrWork facility in New York asserting that the Chinese competitor had “copied elements from WeWork’s logo, mobile phone app icons, and phrases.” In the legal case, the shared office giant added that Mao, UrWork’s founder and CEO, had “admitted that the URWORK name is a play on the WEWORK trademark and that the UR element is intended to signify the pronoun “your.”
UrWork has disputed the validity of WeWork’s case, insisting that “work” is a common word which WeWork should not be able to claim as its own, and noting the distinction between “We” and “Ur.” In an earlier statement, UrWork contended that, “There is no legal proof, or common sense for any claims from WeWork that URwork infringes upon its trademark.”
UrWork Elbowing Industry Giant in Its Own Backyard
While little-known in the US, UrWork has grown a network of 88 co-working centres in mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore over the past two years. With backing from venture capital giants Sequoia Capital China and Beijing-based Zhen Fund, the Chinese unicorn says it plans to add another 160 locations over the next three years.
In addition to the planned New York location, UrWork has declared its intention to set up a co-working centre in Los Angeles during the fourth quarter of this year.