Trademarkia is a startup search engine providing the largest free global search engine for registered trademarks on the Internet. The company has licensed the trademark database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and provide all of that office’s data, updated daily, in a graphical context. It has also licensed historical trademark data dating back to 1870 that is unavailable on the USPTO’s site. Trademarkia’s integration of services and content enables existing brands to monitor marks and new brands to design and register new marks at a much lower cost than using an intellectual property (IP) attorney or to select from among expired marks.
The Mountain View, California-based company was founded by attorney Raj Abhyanker in 2009. Abhyanker got the idea from his own experiences as an entrepreneur. There was a lack of tools on the Web to help small businesses decide how to name their business. Abhyanker wanted to create a search engine that would help individuals and small businesses find names that are available to register.
Trademarkia is the only place on the Web to find historical brand information such as the first Pepsi logo, the first Coca-Cola logo, and the first Ronald McDonald logo. It can also be used to find out about new products; for example, the recent Facebook virtual currency logo and the Google Nexus One name were first revealed on Trademarkia, because it indexes U.S. trademark records faster than the updates on the USPTO website. Customers can use Trademarkia to search for trademarks and logos by industry category, design, company name, city, filing year, and so forth. There is also a visual search function. Customers can file a trademark in 55 countries through the firms that advertise on the site or through Trademarkia’s own attorneys using one of three packages. The standard package is $159 plus government fees, which can range from less than a dollar to several hundred dollars, depending on the country. For this, customers get a workflow of the process, advice from attorneys, help in preparing a description of the mark, a direct conflict search, and automated reminders of important dates and follow-up steps in the process. The $499 Gold package includes these plus one year of trademark notice monitoring, more extensive legal and advisory services, a PDF of all documents filed, and priority processing.
Trademarkia was in the DemoPit of the 2009 TechCrunch50 conference, and the report filed by TechCrunch generated a lively discussion about the value of the service. Many comments asked why entrepreneurs should pay for a service when they could use the USPTO’s engine free. Abhyanker made the case the Trademarkia offers a more user-friendly way to search trademarks than the USPTO, searches European marks (outside the USPTO’s scope), and, unlike the government, helps individuals and companies to monitor activity relevant to a trademark.
The company says that market size for what it is doing is segmented across different opportunity spaces. In one space, there are about 350,000 trademark filings a year in the United States. With an average of $200 an order for Trademarkia, it’s about a $70 million market in the United States alone. The company believes that the foreign filings market is probably double that.
A broader and more important market is brand management and brand awareness – making sure that people and small businesses know that there are no competing brands being registered as domain names or starting up in their geography where they might create parasitic competition that leverages the goodwill of the company that took the time to come up with the name first. Monitoring of trademarks is a multi-billion dollar market and one that Trademarkia is seeking to address.
For TAM, the company looks top down and bottom up. Top down, it knows that about 30% of the total 350,000 trademarks filed in the United States a year are filed by individuals. This equates to about 400 a day. Trademarkia was able to capture about 4%–5% of that market in its first seven months.
It files about 20 trademarks a day and says that every four seconds, someone new comes to Trademarkia and finds a trademark. Traffic has increased fivefold in the past month, and Trademarkia says that it has over 40,000 unique page views a day and approximately 15,000 unique visitors a day. According to compete.com, there were 67,202 unique visitors in April.
Trademark filing is a fragmented marketplace in which there are many small and large attorney firms that file trademarks for clients. Also, clients file trademarks directly with the government by navigating the process on their own. This is also a fragmented, complicated process, and people had to wait on sites such as LegalZoom for a search result to come back – there was no visibility on whether they were going to get the name they wanted to protect.
In aggregate, Trademarkia’s revenue is about $400,000 a month including government fees, with profitability of about $100,000 a month. At its current growth rate, Trademarkia expects about $7 million in 2010 revenue. The company is entirely bootstrapped. “So wearing the same clothes every day, buying no new cars, working really hard in my primary job as a lawyer so I can finance these ventures,” said Abhyanker.
The growth strategy is to expand the business into international searching of trademarks and domains and to create different services that will benefit small businesses owners and consumers trying to manage their products and businesses through strategic use of naming and branding.
Abhyanker says that he does not have any thoughts about exit right now; Trademarkia wants to take things one day at a time and create a fundamentally profitable business on the economics of the business itself. Abhyanker does not believe the company has to exit, but it could do so in a number of ways depending on the size it achieves. Owing to connections to investment banks, and “if we hit a revenue rate of $10 million–$30 million, I’m sure there’s plenty of investment banks that would love to buy us; if we hit a revenue rate of $100 million, maybe we’ll go IPO. If we only hit a revenue rate of $7 million–$10 million as we are, it could be a very nice private business on its own,” says Abhyanker.
This segment is a part in the series : The 1M1M Deal Radar 2010