Balderton backs trademark checking tool TrademarkNow with $3.5m

London-based Balderton Capital has invested $3.5 million (£2 million) in trademark checking tool, TrademarkNow, continuing its European start-up spending spree.

TrademarkNow, launched just over a year ago and headquartered in Helsinki, is a web-based system used by companies to assess the risk of confusion of new names or brands with existing trademarks and to determine the likelihood of successful trademark applications.

The company claims its technology significantly reduces the amount of time and money it takes for companies, marketers and trademark lawyers to realise potential trademark infringements.

The investment is coming out of the $305 million (£179 million) Series A fund that Balderton announced it has raised on 1 April. The fund, Balderton's fifth, brought the venture capital firm's overall European start-up investment pot to $2.2 billion (£1.30 billion) and has already been drawn on to back car comparison application carwow, fintech start-up GoCardless and urban navigation app Citymapper.

TrademarkNow, which claims to have an artificial intelligence model of trademark law at its core, said it will use the money to expand its existing team of nine and increase the number of trademark registries its platform is able to search.

Currently, TrademarkNow searches 16 trademark registries across the world including the US, the European Union and most northern and western European countries. By the end of 2014, TrademarkNow will cover the registries in all European Union member states as well as up to 10 further major territories.

The company, which charges customers an annual subscription for unlimited searches, claims to have cleared over 5,000 unique trademarks for its customers since its public launch last March.

Mikael Kolehmainen, CEO of TrademarkNow, said: “As a former trademark lawyer, I know that just finding out if two brand names clash like-for-like isn’t enough and that’s why my team and I are developing technology that measures – and mitigates – the risk of confusion between similar sounding trademarks in the same regions or industries.

Daniel Waterhouse, a partner at Balderton Capital, said: “The trademark industry has been ripe for reinvention for many years, having failed to keep up with the technological change and innovation that we are seeing across the rest of the enterprise software market.

“Mikael and his team at TrademarkNow are hitting some impressive customer acquisition and registry coverage targets, despite being only one year old, because they have developed a solution that responds exactly to the demands of the industry to which it caters. This team has a great future ahead and I’m looking forward to working closely with them to own this market.”

When it was raised, James Wise, a junior partner at Balderton, said: “What we’re hoping to do with this capital is fund another range of European breakthroughs."

The Mayfair-headquartered VC, founded in 2000 under the name Benchmark Capital before rebranding itself in 2007, typically invests between $3-5 million in start-ups. Previous investee companies include Betfair, LoveFilm and MySQL. The total value of the companies backed by Balderton is worth over $10 billion.

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