Every business is concerned with securing its intellectual property rights, but securing a trademark can often prove expensive and time-consuming, causing significant problems for small and medium-sized businesses. Swedish startup Digip, which today announced the completion of a $3.4 million seed round of funding, claims to have the answer.
“We wanted to make it easier for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs to trademark their brands,” explains Viktor Johansson, CEO and co-founder of Digip. “A digital process that is open and transparent gives them the peace of mind they need that their brand is protected.”
Traditionally, companies looking for trademark services have paid specialist consultants or law firms for the time it takes to carry out the work required. The problem with that for startups and early-stage companies is that the costs are open; at a time when money is often scarce, they do not know in advance how much it will cost them to protect their important intellectual property.
Digip therefore takes a different approach. For an annual fixed subscription fee agreed in advance – starting at €200 for businesses with simple cases – customers get three services in one. First, they can use Digip’s platform to research their proposed trademark – to check if another business has already used it or something similar, for example. Digip will then manage the application process, in contact with the relevant authorities. And finally, companies can use the platform to monitor their trademark protection on an ongoing basis – for example, to check that another company isn’t trying to register something similar.
The service is delivered via a digital interface that businesses can check in as and when they see fit to monitor progress and receive updates. The aim, explains Johansson, is to challenge the established business model in what is a global brand market of 150 billion euros.
“A company usually spends a four-figure sum on a trademark search and waits weeks for results,” says Johansson. “We’ve already transformed this experience for users who report an average savings of 80% on brand management fees and reduce a significant portion of their workload by using the platform and services.” In one case, Digip reduced a client’s trademark costs by an estimated $400,000, he says.
Since opening its doors to customers last year, Digip has signed up more than 500 paying customers, ranging from small start-ups to large enterprises with significant revenues. The latter customers face the same trademark challenges as smaller companies, Johansson points out.
More importantly, the service is largely geography agnostic. Digip’s existing customers come from more than 40 different countries, all of whom access their platform digitally.
While countries naturally have different legal systems, Digip’s international business model is based on common standards relating to trademarks. In the EU, all 27 member states follow the same rules and application process, while the UK – currently Digip’s most important market – still adheres to something very similar. Other markets around the world accept the common standards set by the World Intellectual Property Organization.
With the company’s revenue on track to triple during the current financial year, Digip’s aim is now to accelerate its growth trajectory. One possibility is partnerships with other players in the sector – such as law firms, brand consultants and search advisors – who may be interested in incorporating the technology into their own services. The company is also planning further geographical expansion and an increased focus on sales and marketing.
Today’s funding round will certainly help in this regard. Digip has raised $1.3 million in additional seed funding to add to the $2.1 million it raised earlier in the year. The round was led by the venture capital companies Industrifonden and Seed X, with participation from a number of family offices and angel investors from the start-up ecosystem in Stockholm.
– The legal industry has been slow to embrace technology, leaving traditional players behind, argues Tore Tolke, senior investment director at Industrifondet. “But Digip is showing fantastic potential and demand for their services is growing.”