Law is an expanding business, its scope increasingly moving beyond the courtroom and into technology, security consultations and everything in between. An international firm embodying this principle can be found in Wiggin, which in addition to expanding into movie production and on-demand television has extended its reach to the tech space with its intellectual property tech company INCOPRO, which offers users services for online brand and IP protection.
This week, Wiggin announced that its tech startup raised $21 million from investment group Highland Europe. The firm noted that the funds will be used to bolster INCOPRO’s tech stock as well as its international footprint, specifically into areas with both lucrative and problematic marketplaces for IP.
Formerly known as Intelligent Content Protection, INCOPRO employs machine learning to scour the web in search of counterfeit products, assesses and prioritizes issues facing a user, and enables the takedown of infringements from the web. INCOPRO CEO and Wiggin IP partner Simon Baggs told Legaltech News that funding will allow the startup to build on its existing machine-learning capabilities, such as filtering counterfeit products from web hits, and create new features, such as tracking offline data for users.
While Wiggin and INCOPRO function as separate entities, Baggs noted the firm uses its technology in “quite a lot of online enforcement work” with companies, as well as film studios.
“The technology that INCOPRO has helps deliver the evidence to support legal cases, so there is quite a close relationship between INCOPRO and Wiggin,” he added. “The more technology that is out there, the more Wiggin can make use of the evidence that’s built from that technology to help its clients.”
The relationship also has helped the IP technology company build its own reputation and “a solid customer base,” Baggs noted.
“It’s given the company a lot of credibility, so that’s enabled it to grow quite fast, which lots of customers want when they look for this kind of service. They like to know the company understands intellectual property, and all the issues that go with that,” he added. “INCOPRO was built out of a law firm; other companies doing this don’t have that law firm background.”
Indeed, the firm has been taking steps to leave a greater footprint in the IP space. One of the early law firms in the U.K. to accept equity investments and take on nonlawyer partners, Wiggin acquired 14-lawyer IP boutique firm Redd in 2017. Wiggin CEO John Banister previously told The American Lawyer that Wiggin made the move to build on its then-four-person IP practice, as there had been “lots of client opportunities that we just weren’t in a position to take on because our team was too small.” The acquisition, he added, was expected to double its IP practice’s revenue to about $8 million over a period of 12 months.
INCOPRO has its eyes on overseas growth as well. Among the post-investment expansions scheduled is in China, where INCOPRO is looking to grow its current operations. The country is widely known for its issues with IP protection. Kroll Associates’ Charles Scholz told ABC News that Chinese counterfeits cost foreign firms about $20 million a year in lost profits. A 2016 report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office found that between 2011 and 2013, roughly 63 percent of fake products across the globe originated in China.
“China is important to us because that’s where a large part of the counterfeiting problem comes from. It’s estimated that 80 percent of all counterfeit originates in China. So we need people in China dealing with the main online platforms, like Alibaba, WeChat, etc.,” Baggs said.
The company is also planning on strengthening its market presence in Europe, where it plans to open offices in Germany and Italy, and the U.S.