WeWork sues as China coworking giant UrWork goes global

By Kitty Knowles 13 September 2017

Any guesses why?

The ‘we’ in WeWork indicates the company’s popular collaborative philosophy – it brought co-working to New York back in 2010, and its members can now work in 50 cities across the world.

But as the trend for shared office spaces has boomed, and competitors have eagerly brought the concept to their home cities.

Now WeWork is starting to play tough.

The American giant is suing China’s largest co-working company UrWork for trademark infringement (we know, the authoritarian tones of ‘you are work’ don’t have quite the same ring).

WeWork’s stand comes poignantly as UrWork shows it’s set on expansion:

The Chinese goliath means big business, and WeWork is right to be concerned.

UrWork at CapitaMall Minzhongleyuan, Wuhan (PRNewsfoto/UrWork)

Meet UrWork

Since it founded in 2015, UrWork has opened the doors of more than 70 co-working spaces across Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.

This year valued at $1.5bn, it’s also now starting to tread on WeWork’s toes, expanding to new destinations including Singapore, the US, and the UK.

With further overseas growth in the pipeline, UrWork also recently acquired Singapore’s Spacemob, pledging $500m towards growth in Southeast Asia and Korea.

It even invested in Indonesian-based WeWork rival, Rework (a partnership that will allow it to expand to 35 locations in the country next year).

In short: yes, UrWork’s laid a solid footing in China, but its also now incredibly ambitious, and shows no signs of slowing down.

WeWork's London office in Devonshire Square.

Is a lawsuit the answer?

Of course it’s likely that WeWork is genuinely upset about UrWork’s name.

Its new lawsuit points specifically to both being a two-syllable word, with a two-letter pronoun joined with the word “Work”, as well as similarities in its logo, app icon, and offices. And it filed a similar lawsuit against UrWork in London in July.

In response, UrWork argues its brand is a valid interpretation of the shared working industry, and that the word “work” is a commonly used term.

As both companies grow you can expect further punches to be thrown.

But we can’t imagine even a last-minute rebranding holding China’s Urwork back.