Every business is keen to secure its intellectual property, but securing a trademark can often be expensive and time-consuming, causing major problems for small and medium-sized businesses. Swedish startup Digipwhich today announced the completion of a $3.4 million seed funding round claims to have the answer.
“We wanted to make it easier for entrepreneurs and founders to register their brands as trademarks,” explains Viktor Johansson, CEO and co-founder of Digip. “A digital process that is open and transparent gives them the assurance they need that their brand is protected.”
Traditionally, companies seeking trademark services paid specialist consultants or law firms for the time it took to do the required work. The problem with that for startups and early-stage companies is that the cost is unlimited; at a time when money is often scarce, they do not know in advance how much it will cost them to protect their crucial intellectual property.
Digip therefore takes a different approach. For an annual pre-agreed fixed subscription fee – and from €200 for simple business – customers actually get three services in one. First, they can use Digip’s platform to research their proposed trademark, for example to check if another company has already used it or something like that. Digip will then manage the application process and maintain contact with the appropriate authorities. And finally, companies can use the platform to continuously monitor their trademark protection, for example to check that another company is not trying to register something similar.
The service is delivered through a digital interface where companies can check in at their own discretion to track progress and receive updates. The aim, Johansson explains, is to challenge the established business model in a €150 billion global brand market.
“A company typically spends a four-figure fee on a trademark search and waits weeks for results,” says Johansson. “We’ve already transformed this experience for users who report saving an average of 80% on trademark management costs and reducing 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 to customers last year, Digip has signed up more than 500 paying customers, ranging from small start-ups to large enterprises with substantial revenues. These latter clients face the same trademark challenges as smaller companies, Johansson points out.
Importantly, the service is largely geography agnostic. Digip’s existing customers come from more than 40 different countries, all of whom have digital access to the platform.
While countries naturally have different legal systems, Digip’s international business model is based on common standards regarding trademarks. In the European Union, all 27 member states follow the same rules and the same application process, while the United Kingdom – currently Digip’s main market – still has something similar. Other markets around the world accept the common standards set by the World Intellectual Property Organization.
With the company’s revenues on track to triple in the current fiscal year, Digip’s goal now is to accelerate its growth trajectory. One opportunity is collaborating with other industry players, for example law firms, brand consultants and search consultants, who may be interested in integrating the technology into their own services. The company also plans further geographic expansion and a greater focus on sales and marketing.
Today’s funding round will certainly help. Digip has raised $1.3 million in additional seed funding to add to the $2.1 million it raised earlier this year. The round was led by venture capital firms Industrifonden and Seed X, with participation from a number of family offices and angel investors from Stockholm’s start-up ecosystem.
“The legal industry has been slow to embrace technology and leave traditional players behind,” argues Tore Tolke, senior investment director at Industrifonden. “However, Digip shows great potential and the demand for its services is growing.”