Balderton Leads $3.5M Investment In Trademark Checking Tool TrademarkNow


Making good on its promise of a renewed focus on Series A investments in Europe, Balderton Capital has led a $3.5 million Series A round in trademark checking tool, TrademarkNow. Previous backers include Lifeline Ventures, Finnish taxpayer-funded Tekes, and various angel investors.

It follows a recent investment by Balderton in urban transport app Citymapper, which saw the London-based VC lead a $10 million round.

Helsinki-headquartered TrademarkNow offers an “automated trademark search and risk analysis” online tool that it claims significantly reduces the costs (and time) it takes for companies, marketers and trademark lawyers to stay on top of potential trademark infringements.

Essentially it lets them assess the risks when introducing new names or brands related to any existing trademarks as well as helping to determine how likely a successful trademark application will be.

Whatever you think of trademarks, this is the kind of thing companies have to wrestle with — and at huge cost — in the real world.

The old way of conducting trademark searches involves a series of “manual checks and risk assessments” which, TrademarkNow says, can take days to complete and relies on employing expensive legal professionals.

The promise of the startup’s tech is that this can be done online in an automated way, by consolidating available data and employing relevant logic to look for like-for-like names and trademarks, “with little or no legal expertise, saving time and money at the earliest stage of a brand’s naming process.”

Since public launch in March 2013, TrademarkNow claims over 5,000 unique trademarks have been cleared by customers.

The incumbent players that TrademarkNow is attempting to disrupt include trademark data “giants” Thomson Reuters and Wolters Kluwer.

“They provide data or outsourced search work, whereas we provide process efficiency,” says co-founder and CEO Mikael Kolehmainen, who was previously a trademark lawyer. “At least $1.5 billion is wasted every year by companies using outmoded trademark checking systems.”

TrademarkNow generates revenue by charging customers for an annual subscription for unlimited searches — a model that beats traditional pay-per-search pricing structures for ongoing trademark management.

Meanwhile, European VC firm Balderton has been in the headlines lately. Back in October it recruited Daniel Waterhouse from Wellington Partners as a General Partner, amid speculation it was trying to close a new fund.

It then made the news again — and with it a statement of intent — by announcing it had added Suranga Chandratillake, founder of AIM-listed internet media company blinkx, as a General Partner. After 10 years based in Silicon Valley, UK-born-and-raised Suranga has returned to London to help lead Balderton’s early-stage investments in the online media and enterprise sectors.

Then, finally, in April the London-based VC — whose prior investments include MySQL, NaturalMotion and Yoox, amongst many others — unveiled its fifth European fund, totaling $305 million, with a focus on Series A investments in European tech startups. Today’s investment in TrademarkNow is evidence of that strategy and also represents Waterhouse’s first lead investment for the VC firm.