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David Dou, Juri Sildam, Geoffrey Singer, and David Michaels

Global Legal Hackathon inspires trademark search platform idea in Toronto

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 @ 12:10 PM | By Amanda Jerome

Trademark Pro, a digital platform that could search and score logos for trademark infringement, was the winning idea out of Toronto at the first annual Global Legal Hackathon.

The hackathon, which attracted over 5,000 participants in 40 cities worldwide, was co-founded by Aileen Schultz, the director of network intelligence at Integra Ledger and David Fisher, Integra’s CEO. The event brought legal professionals and tech pros together to brainstorm ideas to solve the world’s legal issues.

Over the span of 52 hours, teams were encouraged to come up with an idea to pitch to a panel of judges in each city. The winning teams advanced to a second round where they will face off against global participants.

David Dou, Juri Sildam, Geoffrey Singer, and David Michaels

(left to right) David Dou, Juri Sildam, Geoffrey Singer, and David Michaels

Trademark Pro, created by David Michaels, David Dou, Geoffrey Singer and Juri Sildam at the Feb. 23-25 hackathon, is aimed at trademark lawyers who could use the platform to see how similar a logo is to others that already exist.

“You take a picture of the logo or you upload it. And then you compare it to the database. And it will score it right away on which trademarks in the database are similar and the degrees of similarity,” explained Michaels during the team’s pitch to the panel of judges hosted by Dentons, Fasken and Integra Ledger in Toronto.

“So now you have a similarity score for your trademark and you can decide whether to go ahead,” he said, adding that the proposed platform could also review court decisions to see how judges have determined trademark infringement in different cases.

Trademark Pro may have been thought up with lawyers in mind as the main users, but Singer and Michaels explained that it could be used by companies and designers as well.

“How can we monetize this? We can sell the searches for $99 each and you can buy a pack of three or a pack of five,” said Michaels.

Jason Moyse, the manager of legal business solutions at Elevate Services and co-founder of Law Made, was one of the four judges to analyze the Trademark Pro pitch. He wanted to know how this idea was different from Lex Machina, a LexisNexis owned company, that has a legal analytics platform which reveals insights about judges, lawyers, parties and cases that are culled from millions of pages of litigation information.

Michaels explained that the Trademark Pro idea differentiates from Lex Machina because it could help the user find similar logos and give the degree of similarity a score. Moyse’s response was to advise the team to build the platform and sell it to Lex Machina.

Trademark Pro was one of six projects pitched at Dentons’ Toronto location. The second place idea, called BrainChain, was created by Lovepreet Kaur, Magdalene Schifferer, Shabs Badsha, Sweni Desai and Errol Cheong. Their idea is an online chatbot that would use blockchain to assist users with legal questions, such as immigration queries.

The third place project, called iConsent, would create biometric evidence of consent on blockchain. The proposed app would note a user’s location, take a photo of their face for analysis and ask for verbal consent. The proposal, created by Sam Ip, Ryan Dsouza and Heidi Wong, raised privacy concerns with the judging panel.

The Trademark Pro inventors were “ecstatic” over their first place win and are committed to improving on their idea and securing a place at the third, and final round, in New York on April 21.

“I think the world is getting more competitive and you have to innovate. Every lawyer who wants to survive should be doing this. Every coder should be joining a team and building the next big dream,” said Michaels after his team was named the winner.

Michaels, who has a background in law, had never met his co-creators before coming to the event. But the group of strangers, made up of machine learning and marketing experts, managed to work together to create multiple ideas before coming up with Trademark Pro.

“We got to work together for a weekend. Everything went super smooth. It’s great,” said Michaels.

Dentons also supported the hackathon in Singapore, where six other teams pitted ideas against each other in a race against the clock.

“We had quite a diverse group of people with different areas of expertise — lawyers, law students, programmers, in-house counsel, entrepreneurs. There was an air of excitement and collaborative spirit around us,” said Zhulkarnain Rahim, a partner at Singapore’s Dentons Rodyk and a mentor at the hackathon.

“To me it is important for Dentons Rodyk to participate in such an event, so that we have a greater understanding on the future and potential solutions to make our business more efficient and consumer-centric,” he explained, adding that multiple teams in Singapore were focusing on smart contracts and a platform that takes new legislation and simplifies it into easy-to-understand snippets in order to assist the reader in identifying who will be impacted the most.

“Based on my interactions with the teams, they are exploring various solutions to different ‘pain points’ in the legal industry and generally how to make our workflow and business more efficient,” he said.

Ginevra Saylor, the national director of knowledge management at Dentons in Toronto and one of the judges to choose Trademark Pro, also highlighted legal innovation’s impact on efficiency in the workplace.

“The law is slow to change, so we’re a little behind some of the other industries that have really embraced technology. But the opportunities for access to justice and for making the practice of law not only more efficient because that’s what people typically think of, but to make it richer and give lawyers the opportunity to do what they really went to law school to do,” she said.

“They didn’t go to do all of the drudgery type tasks and what technology is doing is freeing their time up to really think of possibilities of what the law can be, what the law can do for all of us,” she added.

The Lawyer’s Daily is a Media Partner of the Global Legal Hackathon with full editorial discretion.