Work vs. Work & Co.: Agency Says Ex-Huge Execs Are Stepping on Its Trademark

Six-Month-Old Work & Co. Counters That 'Hundreds' of Companies Use the Word 'Work'

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Richmond, Va.-based agency Work is small but it can still make a fuss. The shop wants its followers on Facebook and Twitter to know that it trademarked its name long before there was a Work & Co., the shop started by ex-Huge executives earlier this year.

On Wednesday, the older company created a website called Work vs. Work & Co. featuring this note:

In May we were contacted by several individuals who read an article in Advertising Age announcing an agency opening in New York called — WORK & CO. Some were confused and wondering if it was us. Some were shocked. Some were angry. We contacted the new agency to express our concerns. However, they did not share the same concerns. What do you think?

The note also encourages people to share their thoughts on Facebook and Twitter. It shows each shop's logo, as well as a photo of Dan Wieden and Jay Chiat at Work's office well before Work & Co. came along. Mr. Chiat died in 2002.

"Our goal is to try to get some awareness in the short-term," said Andy Stites, associate creative director at Work. "We're an indie shop and with something like this, even if you do have a case, it can be expensive to go into a legal battle. That stuff is done behind closed doors. Any confusion can dilute the brand."

The move has generated a handful of tweets and Facebook shares but it's not immediately clear how many people are rallying behind the shop. Regardless, founder Cabell Harris is taking to Twitter and Instagram to generate more chatter.

Cabell Harris posted this photo on Instagram and shared it on Twitter earlier today
Cabell Harris posted this photo on Instagram and shared it on Twitter earlier today

Work & Co. executives did not seem worried. "We conferred carefully with legal counsel before setting up our name, of course, and determined that it doesn't infringe either on the name 'Work Labs,' or the hundreds of other company names that include the word 'work,'" said Gene Liebel, founding partner at Work & Co.

"We wish everyone in the industry tons of happiness and success," he added.

The older, Virginia-based agency trademarked the name "Work" many years ago but it has also positioned and branded itself as "Work Labs."

Work services both marketers and other agencies. It also produces beer and is currently working on a coffee brand, said the Work executive.

Work & Co. opened this past May with a number of ex-Huge executives, including Founding Partner and Chief Strategy Officer Gene Liebel, Creative Director Joe Stewart, Partner and Head of Product Design Felipe Memoria and VP-Product Design Marcelo Eduardo. Mohan Ramaswamy, a former product strategy lead at Huge and more recently an engagement manager at McKinsey has also joined the new shop.

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