A West Hollywood company working on AI designed to detect intellectual property fraud announced this month a raise of $20 million in Series A funding.
MarqVision, which helps global brands identify and remove counterfeits from more than 1,500 online marketplaces across the world, said in a recent statement that it would use the funds to advance product development beyond its brand-protection platform to create a “new operating IP system that allows companies to create, manage, protect and monetize IP rights all in one place.” With operations in Boston and Seoul, as well as Los Angeles, MarqVision says it will use the funding to expand its operations nationally and globally, including plans to open its first European market office in Paris.
Mark Lee, the company’s chief executive officer, founded the startup in 20202 alongside Chief Brand Officer DK Lee and other friends and associates from Harvard and MIT. Lee, himself a Harvard School of Law graduate, has stressed in interviews that intellectual property counterfeiting is a significant problem that’s only growing worse, within the fashion industry in particular. Current estimates show that IP counterfeiting will be a $3 trillion problem by 2023, according to the company.
“Creative assets are under assault in today’s digital world, with content owners left largely unprotected as consumers get hoodwinked into buying fake goods and NFTs by sophisticated counterfeiters,” said Lee. “With this new round of funding, we can accelerate our mission of building the world’s first IP operating system to give brand owners full control of their IP portfolios.”
Lee said the rise of online marketplaces and third-party sellers has made counterfeiting an increasingly viable venture, lowering the hurdle for distributing counterfeits globally and increasing the volume and velocity at which counterfeit products are sold. Brands traditionally rely on law firms to deal with infringers, but for companies large and small there hasn’t been an effective, real-time recourse responsive enough to effectively shut down counterfeiters.
By allowing brands to automatically detect infringing listings from global online marketplaces deeply infiltrated by counterfeiters, such as like Amazon and eBay, MarqVision says it’s finally providing an answer to this problem. In its statement on the funding raise, the startup said its deep learning-based image recognition platform proved so effective that it won the company funding support from early investors Softbank Ventures, Bass Investment, and Y-Combinator.
DST Global Partners and Atinum Investments joined these previous investors in the company’s latest funding round. To date, the company has raised just over $25 million in funding total, according to Crunchbase. Cheuk Kim, managing director at Atinum Investment, described MarqVision’s work as “astounding” in a statement accompanying the funding, and praised the team for its continued work to extend the platform’s capabilities.
“No one else is doing anything remotely this advanced, and it’s possible in large part due to Mark’s background not only as a respected technologist and startup founder, but as a legal expert with a specialization in trademark, copyright, and patent laws,” said Kim. “He understands the holes counterfeiters exploit and is developing a new way forward.”