Two giants in the flexible office space market in New Jersey and across the country are engaged in a trademark infringement battle over the term "HQ." The dispute was launched after WeWork created a new business line, HQ by WeWork. In response, Regus alleged that the name violates a trademark of HQ Network Systems that has been in place for 28 years. The HQ trademark was acquired with the company by Regus in 2004.
Regus says that HQ by WeWork could confuse consumers, as it still operates a website at hq.com and offers workspaces under the branding of HQ Global Workplaces. The lawsuit alleges that the brand has been active since the 1970s and that people could be confused by the new WeWork branding. According to the suit, customers expect that HQ-branded flexible office spaces and related services would be linked to Regus, not its competitor.
The dispute between the competitors isn't limited to the trademark and branding issues. Regus also claims that WeWork acted unlawfully to interfere with its business when it offered brokers 100 percent commissions if they got companies to sign leases at WeWork when switching away from a competitor in the office space market. The lawsuit also claims that WeWork employees have called Regus tenants on a cold-calling basis, offering them significant discounts if they would move to WeWork.
In response, WeWork denied all of the allegations of unfair business practices. It also asked the court to invalidate the Regus trademark, saying that HQ is a common, generic term for headquarters.
Intellectual property, from products advertised to software and other technical services, is critical to many businesses. An attorney can work to make sure these ideas are properly protected and take action in cases of infringement.