The journey to online IP protection
Matchhamster is an independent business, based in Brainport Eindhoven (NL), one of Europe’s most innovative regions. We work at the intersection where Intellectual Property (IP) meets Information Technology (IT). We have customers in nine countries.
We devise and deliver solutions that protect content and design in the online domain. On this page our founder tells the story behind Matchhamster.
Our founders story
My name is Marcus van de Kerkhof, and I am for almost 15 years working on the crossing point of agile software development and intellectual property. After years of focusing on detecting copyright violators, removing content that was being misused, and collecting damages for copyright owners, I founded Matchhamster in 2014. Soon after its foundation, Yuri Martens joined me as a co-founder.
Let me take you back to the beginning of the story and tell you more about our future plans.
Back in 2006 there was little recognition for the online intellectual property rights of freelance authors.
My brother and sister-in-law are both authors. They make articles and columns that you read in the well-known magazines and newspapers.
Back in 2006 they noticed their unique content was re-used increasingly adopted, without them getting paid a penny. It was extremely difficult to get money for the re-use their work, because there was little recognition for the online intellectual property rights of authors.
The union for authors did not have the resources to tackle these infringers effectively, so my sister-in-law and me decided to come up with a solution ourselves. She took her journalistic experiences and a network of colleagues with her. I brought in my background as a project manager. Together we started a business.
It started with a platform for authors, where we helped them getting a fair fee for the work they created.
We approached a number of infringers with the request to pay a fee for the content they used. Our proposal to them was in line with the real value of the work. When they paid, the matter was settled. Sometimes an infringer even bought the work.
If the infringer did not agree, we started a legal proceeding, in collaboration with a specialised law firm. Then it was up to the judge to determine who was right.
After a number of very successfully closed lawsuits in which the court awarded substantial damages, the number of customers increased rapidly. some excellent authors joined our platform.
An article is just as special as a movie or music.
Not everyone liked our approach. Many people believed that internet content should be freely available, and they clearly showed that. But progress was made. Our approach proved to be very effective. There was hardly any jurisprudence, so every case contributed to an improvement of the author’s legal position.
Opinion changed positively in the years that followed. We worked to improve awareness of our customers’ employees as well as infringers. We informed infringers what copyright means and what they were allowed to do, to avoid future claims.
Within a few years we worked for most of the major Dutch newspapers and publishers, and also started working outside the Netherlands. We started offering more services. In addition to legal procedures, we focused on removing copyright infringements, advising on copyright policies and selling IP licences.
We support effort, creativity and craftsmanship with realtime and automated protection.
Late 2013 we were curious if we could build a product company within a service company. A company that runs on consultants and lawyers is simply not scalable.
By participating in an accelerator program we were able to test which technical components could become the basis for new products. After a few months in the pressure cooker, having discussions with mentors from companies like Facebook, Google, Stripe, Paypal , Eventbrite and Airbnb Matchhamster was founded.
Matchhamster wants to make sure that the creator of content gets a ‘fair share’ for his or her effort, creativity and craftsmanship. We want to achieve this with scalable and automated solutions.
We want to realise a space where the creator decides who can use online IP and on what conditions.
Currently we offer protection for content and design. We take care of the monitoring of reuse, both for texts and images. We also remove copyright violations from the internet. Finally, we investigate the originality of IP.
We have a flexible team that quickly responds to the needs of our customers. Over the past years we worked with companies in Europe, Africa and America. Maybe we will work with you in the future too? We look forward to meeting you!