While most thriving companies view brand protection as essential to their continuous success, there are still to many entrepreneurs who do not put trademark registration on their to-do list. Trama, an online trademark registration provider, seeks to challenge the notion of trademarks being overly complicated, expensive, and - perhaps most dangerously - unnecessary.
In this interview, Juraj Cvik, the cmo of Trama, shares what it means to pave your own way by continuously educating your audience.
Trama was established in April 2020, you came aboard in October 2020. How did things look at the time?
When I joined the company, it was a very small team, maybe six or seven people. At the time, we were basically just testing the concept. We had this idea that trademark registration and brand protection can be simplified, and that there was a sufficient market for this idea. But we didn't really have the product, we didn't have that many clients and we didn't have the reputation.
So how did you go about it?
From the business perspective, the first thing was to understand and define our segment, to understand our clients, who they are, what they value, what we can offer them, how we can meet their needs, and then translate this knowledge into the strategy. For us, it meant focusing at first on those clients who were actively seeking trademark registration, especially those looking for service providers in different countries.
From the product perspective, since we were a start up and we were trying to get clients and prove the idea can work as soon as possible, it meant making frequent changes.
You managed to register over 8,000 trademarks in just two years. Why do you think the idea took off as well as it did?
I've seen it with numerous successful start ups that those that succeed, often have an idea based on a real problem in life. One of our founders, Igor Demcak, had spent his whole professional life as a trademark attorney. He could see that there was an opportunity because highly qualified trademark attorneys were tied up spending time on administrative work that could be automated. That meant that trademark registration costs are super high. And that in turn means that only the big brands can afford to go for trademark registration.
When we put this all together, it just clicked and it made perfect sense to produce a service like this. I think the success of Trama just proves that Igor was right and there's a place for a service provider like us.
What would you say is the biggest marketing challenge for a service like yours?
If you ask ten entrepreneurs whether they would consider registering a trademark, nine of them don't even know what trademark registration is. Even now, I would say 20-40% of our clients only decide to come to us after they have a problem and someone has already tried to copy their brand identity.
What we are trying to do is teach them and educate them to think about brand protection from the very start. When you launch a new business, or have a new business idea, thinking about how to protect that idea from the outset makes it so much easier to avoid potential problems in the future.
As a marketer, how do you make sure you stay in touch with your clients?
I try to listen to them through other people. We have more than 400 clients a month now and it's just impossible for a single person to have a conversation with all of them. So I listen to our support team and our legal team to try to better understand what our clients want and need.
We also started running an article series called Stories of our clients, where you can read about their experiences with brand protection and with Trama. So every now and then I have a chance to talk to them directly, and it's quite illuminating to have these conversations.
To understand your customers, you had to learn about trademarks yourself. Is there something that surprised you about trademark law?
It keeps surprising me how delicate this legal sector is. If you have a brand and wish to register a trademark for it, then in order for the application to be successful, you first need to meet the criteria for trademark registration. These criteria revolve around how unique the brand is.
You cannot really register "Table" if you are producing tables. You also need to be distinct from existing registered trademarks. It keeps surprising me how delicate these differences can be and how our legal team makes sense of everything.
You could have two, in my opinion, very different brands. But our legal team sees the similarities, knows that they are in conflict and how to communicate this and how to protect our clients. In the beginning, I thought it was more of a science with precise rules and I'm still learning how complicated this art of brand protection really is.
Anyone can register a trademark in their country of residence. Should entrepreneurs just do it themselves then?
I'm sure business owners could do it on their own, as I'm sure that they can do their finances and invoicing if they really wanted to do it. But for most people, it's probably advisable to outsource these processes to people who do this on a daily basis and know what they're doing.
With trademark registration, it's critical to prepare the application correctly to maximise the level of protection. If you're a small business owner, you probably don't have extensive knowledge on the topic. Experience also tells us that 20-30% of self-filed trade mark applications get rejected.
Ok, so it's probably advisable to outsource this. But as a business owner, why should I pick you over a standard lawyer?
A typical lawyer, who also does trademarks, will be mostly focused on a different area of law and will have to refresh their knowledge before helping you with your case. The same arguments apply as when comparing services provided by Trama and self-filed trademark applications. We have so much more experience in the field that we can make the process seamless and more professional.
You could also go to a trademark attorney, someone who specialises in trademarks, but here, the main difference really is the price. You can easily be charged £200 an hour with a trademark attorney, and the whole registration could cost you somewhere in the region of £2,000. Whereas with Trama, we do everything including a free check to ensure your trademark meets all the necessary criteria, including filing, representation, and management for a fraction of the price. So you get the same, or maybe even better experience for a fraction of the price.
How are you able to drive those costs down?
This takes us back to the basic idea behind Trama. If we pull these processes together and automate what can be automated, then we can find space for optimisation that is reflected in the cost. I'm not talking about the legal assessment or talking with the client because these things are best done by a qualified trademark attorney, but we reduce the manual part of their work.
For example, we are currently working on a one-click filing functionality within our system, which will allow us to cut an hour from the trademark registration process because there will be no need to manually submit information to the Intellectual Property Office. It'll be done with just one click. We have numerous automated processes like this, which allows us to continually drive down costs.
What's next for Trama?
We'll be focusing on opening our platforms to other trademark attorneys. Having successfully registered over 8,000 trademarks, we can see the full picture and have automated as much as can be automated, but right now, the system is only helping our attorneys. We believe there is a place for the system to help other trademark attorneys as well. And we are hoping that by doing this, we can fulfil the end goal of Trama of making brand protection available at scale.
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