Founder Spotlight of AIPLUX: CEO Alfred Wu
Top Ranking Startup Develops Trailblazing Technology, Accelerating the Way Global Trademarks Are Processed
The topic of IP, or intellectual property, has been kicking up a storm in Asia. With MUJI losing its trademark rights and Oppo leaving the German market after patent litigation with Nokia, how to protect your IP rights has become something businesses in Asia are keen to look into. With 22 years of experience in the IP industry, AIPLUX Technology founder Alfred Wu builds databases, AI algorithms, and user-friendly UI/UX to tackle complicated IP protection processes. Provided by AIPLUX, the one-stop trademark application platform “LOFA” allows entrepreneurs and SMEs to apply for a trademark in just minutes in Taiwan, the US, and China. Japan and Southeast Asian countries are next in line for AIPLUX. Aside from direct users, the IP industry accelerator also empowers IP practitioners with its digital solutions and thus ranks №1 in Taiwan’s trademark market. The once-rigid market structure has finally been disrupted for the first time in the past 60 years.
“The current model of handling and managing IPs for companies is broken, not only for the bigger companies but for the emerging brands and merchants. There are thousands of IP infringements happening on a daily basis, causing millions of dollars of losses. AIPLUX’s vision is to simplify the process of IP management for customers from big firms to individual brand owners, creating massive value for them by protecting them from potential losses,” said Headline Asia Principal Brian Yen.
We met AIPLUX at IVS2021 SPRING LAUNCHPAD, Japan’s largest startup pitch contest, where they went through fierce competition with 130 Japanese companies to become the only two English-speaking finalists, earning an opportunity to pitch to 1,000 Japanese business leaders. We soon decided to invest in AIPLUX in the same year. We are moved by their ambition to leverage IPs in Asia and protect IP rights for brands and creators from all over the world. With the following questions, we’re digging into what Alfred and his team hope to bring to the world.
1. What does AIPLUX want to solve?
The name AIPLUX says it all: we are all about ambition and using AI to help the whole IP industry enhance user experience (UX).
In the IP industry, performing, screening, researching, documenting and other services are all time-consuming and exhausting even for skilled practitioners, yet the applicants are paying a huge amount of money that could have gone to their business expansions to do the hard work.
AIPLUX is aiming to build a one-stop platform and an ecosystem around it so that IP protections are easier to handle, allowing all businesses, from entrepreneurs to listed companies, to benefit from their intangible assets. And by the end of the day, there will be no room for infringements and IP crimes.
You can apply for your trademark in five minutes with only four steps with AIPLUX’s LOFA trademark application platform.
2. You mentioned the research about the situation of IP protection for SMEs. Can you share more about it?
After looking at the 360,000 companies founded in the last three years in Taiwan, we found that only 3.3 percent have registered for trademarks. The number of patents is less than 1 percent. Unlike patents, a trademark is essential for business operations but it obviously has been overlooked.
Comparatively, around 30 percent of Taiwanese startups listed on Crunchbase have protected their brands, as VCs value intangible assets while making investments. The full report will be public in September; feel free to contact us to read it first when it is published.
3. How did you make it to be ranked first in Taiwan’s trademark application market?
More than 95 percent of law firms for intellectual property rights consist of a team of less than 5 people, while the rest have about 30–40 employees. It is a V-shaped market. These smaller firms and skilled practitioners do not have access to a good system, and it is difficult for them to acquire clients because of the higher opportunity cost. We hope, with our system, they can continue to serve clients without the extra cost as they will not have to hire an assistant or rent an office.
Empowering IP practitioners with AIPLUX’s cost-efficient system is the new business model we developed in 2022. We have been testing the system since June 2022 and since then we have grown six times in size. The top three market share owners in the Taiwanese IP market have not changed in the past 60 years, but this July we made it into the once-impenetrable circle. We are now №1 in market shares and I am so proud of my team. We have less than 1/40 of the manpower of a big firm, but we are able to dominate the market with our system.
CEO Alfred (second right) and his team made changes in Taiwan’s trademark market.
4. What do you think about how failure leads to success?
My career has always been in the IP field. Working within different Chinese-speaking communities (Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai, and San Francisco), I have spent decades working on IP cases from Taiwan, China, the US, Europe, Japan, and Singapore. I started my first business in 1999, and AIPLUX is my seventh business venture. The sixth company closed down, but the other five are still alive, with all of them focused on IP, IP licensing, how to prevent IP rights infringement, IP management, how to enlarge IP values, etc. My previous business was about IP data analysis and search, providing interpretation and labeling for multilingual data for IPs. Unfortunately, people in Asia are less likely to pay for data services. To restructure the business model, we made the difficult decision to close the company.
“At 40, I had no doubts,” Confucius said. This concept is deeply rooted in my culture and my mind. I took the closing of my company as a gift for my 40th birthday. During the two-year break, I spent time studying psychology, meditation, and participated in the extreme sports event Spartan to let go of my past self and refresh things in order to face myself, my partners, the market, and its challenges again.
The experience I gained from my last business has become an extremely important nutrient for me in AIPLUX, especially in the use of labeling techniques in IP data, enabling AIPLUX to develop a unique NLP and NLG technology.
5. What is AIPLUX’s biggest advantage?
We have spent years accumulating our IP database, where data is increasing by the millions every year. Plus, we have to keep updating the old records with new labels. Before we developed AIPLUX’s NLP algorithm, we had already accumulated millions of datasets, the foundation that makes up what we are now. We have created a highly competitive threshold based on the experience gleaned in the past 20 years.
As an advantage, the application of our technology allows us to develop a multinational system for trademark application. The analysis and judgment of the risk involved in every case in different countries depend on our algorithms.
Based on this foundation of computation, we are developing a semi-automated business for patent documents in both English and Chinese. As NLP (Natural Language Processing) in Chinese is difficult to build, this definitely gives us an edge. In the next generation of our product, we plan to add features and build a Japanese user interface.
6. Tell us your experience with Headline Asia
I never thought we would be noticed by an international VC like Headline and even being invested in, since I had just started the business. I thought it would be very stressful to communicate with the firm. However, since the first conversation with Headline Partners Akio Tanaka and Joseph Huang, their friendly and encouraging words have made us feel comfortable to share our thoughts, not to mention getting impressed by their international thinking and insights.
Their understanding of the market and the derivative applications of technology were so insightful as to make me feel that they may have a more in-depth view than many other founders! When we asked them for their advice on the next stage of our business development, they gave us feedback immediately, helping us proceed to the next step more steadily.
I believe that joining the Headline Asia family is a decision that I will never regret.
AIPLUX’s Trademark Risk Assessment System. Check your trademark here for free now.
7. What’s your next step? Do you have any plans for international approaches?
First, regarding our current product — Our existing users are beginning to encounter infringement problems and hoped AIPLUX could help more, prompting us to propose new solutions in the future. Also, some users hope to monitor whether someone is infringing their IP rights with our product because it is hard for them otherwise. To satisfy this need, we also plan to provide a monitor service. All of this is for our existing customers.
Second, we want to empower individual practitioners with our system. In most countries’ IP or legal industries, practitioners mostly rely on firms. You have to be in a big firm to get clients and cases, and if you’re on your own, opening a new firm costs too much. Our new service model targets practitioners. As long as they subscribe to our system, they do not need an office. They only need a computer to serve clients; they do not have to file a case themselves, we do it for them. From filing to payment, we accelerate all the procedures.
“We want to empower individual practitioners with our system” said Alfred Wu, CEO of AIPLUX.”
Our next step is to expand our trademark service into Singapore and all of Asia, including Japan. AIPLUX offers cross-border services, where customers can enjoy the same service with a lower fee in one system. As a logistics support partner for global trademark services, we aspire to empower innovators in Asia to speak for their creations, and no longer be limited by time, space, languages, and regulations.
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