Creative Barcode: will it do the trick?

To this Kat, the words "creative" and "barcode" do not normally share much conceptual space.  While barcodes were undeniably created, in the sense that they do not exist in nature (not even in the old joke: Q: "What's a zebra?" A: "A horse with a barcode") and have not evolved organically, they are synonymous with a means of conveying a message that more readily be appreciated by a machine than by the human eye.  That's why the Creative Barcode tag caught this Kat's imagination.

Creative Barcode is described as a digitally-encoded online IP protection system recently launched by a UK start-up company, which claims to safeguard knowledge-based creative concepts and propositions at the pre-commercialisation presentation stage by embedding application-driven digital codes into written and visual concepts, proposals and creative works in order to denote ownership and permission-based usage.  If you want to get an idea how it works, the company's website offers some Case Studies for your edification.

According to the promotional material,
"The innovative new software application can be downloaded by professional originators, creative individuals and innovative companies who wish to present their confidential new concepts, products and proposals to third parties. The device bestows ‘proof of ownership’ protection at the pre-commercialisation stage when making pitches, sharing ideas and know-how, entering into creative partnerships or submitting proposals and tenders ['Proof of ownership' looks a big claim and may be an overstatement where the software user is not actually the original owner of the barcoded concept.  'Evidence of ownership' might be better, and even that is a matter for the courts to determine].

Each barcode embeds a unique number to each new project, enabling originators to digitally tag, encode and date their work, denote its origins and ownership, and record and track its use by visiting, registering online and downloading the software application. It also offers prospective buyers the route to collaboration, purchase or licensing of concepts".
There's more that attracts the lawyer's eye:
"A Creative Barcode™ forms an agreement between all parties that the tagged propositions, proposals and creative works may not be commercialised by those commissioning, soliciting, viewing or negotiating the use of them without the originator’s permission [Again, what constitutes a binding agreement, upon whom it is binding and with what consequences will ultimately be for the court to decide]. In this way, Creative Barcode™ benefits both originators and procurers by encouraging trust-based opportunities for collaboration, open innovation and the trading of concepts between originators and route-to-market partners".
While welcoming this initiative and wishing it every success, the IPKat awaits reassurance that, when tested in court, it does indeed deliver on its promises in a manner which the courts accept to be binding.  He also foresees problems where pre-existing relationships between the parties as well as subsequent dealings operate so as to vary or negate the operation of this package.  Merpel wonders whether it will have any impact on current practices involving non-disclosure agreements and the general reluctance of prospective licensees/developers to receive unsolicited innovations.

How barcodes work here
Creative Barcode: will it do the trick? Creative Barcode: will it do the trick? Reviewed by Jeremy on Monday, October 11, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. Re the Kat's comments on evidence of ownership, it seems to be analogous to the recently-mentioned "sealed envelope" procedure discused on the UKIPO web site , which says that possession of information in a dated, sealed envelope does not per se establish ownership of its contents. The contents of the "envelope" are however clearly visible. On the face of it, all that it appears to establish is that a particular person was in possession of certain information at a certain date, which tells you nothing about who was the true owner at that date.

  2. @Maxine: thanks so much for your full and helpful response -- and good luck!

  3. Thank you for much for this post. It looks like an interesting way to link your basic Quick Response code with a serialization concept.

    Our marketing company has been using Microsoft Tags ( to link from print materials to YouTube content. Creative Barcode appears to add a level of IPR protection and tracking. I will be investigating their offering.

    I'm familiar with a Scottish firm that offers something similar via encrypted pdfs that are registered and unlocked by the recipient thus yielding the potential acceptance of non-disclosure.

  4. Thanks for further feedback. May I apologise for the awful typo's in my first response. I hit the post button and couldn't find a means to edit. I have sent the moderator edited copy and asked for it to be kindly amended.

    @anonymous- the post it to yourself in an envelope only establishes a date. It does not form any agreement with any other party. Neither is it under-pinned by any formal code of best practice.
    Creative Barcode is very open and very public. The Barcodes created are unique to each person and each project. They also establish in co-creation partnerships which party added the 'value' that made a difference to the overall value of the end product, service or proposition. Thereby a more equitable remuneration of the commercial income can be established.

    Most importantly it places an economic framework around open innovation, co-creation and professional market crowdsourcing that is currently, by and large absent.

    Currently Open Innovation is arguably on 'ajar' as the estimated 75% of non patent innovations cannot be shared with route to market partners.

    Creative Barcode opens up open innovation by providing a means to protect all parties positions and to value innovation contributions.

    Without it, the creative industries are either far too vulnerable to misappropriation of works or simply excluded from the innovation process commercially.

    That status quo does not advantage creative innovators, corporate brand owners, investors, lawyers, consumers or society at large.

    Hope that helps

    Many thanks, Maxine

  5. [This is a replacement for an earlier comment that was deleted for the sake of good spelling]

    Thank you IPKat for your reportage on Creative Barcode - you raise good questions - which you will be happy to know we checked through with Lawyers way before launch.

    The first point to observe is that this is 'open protection' of original pre-commercialised works by Professional Originators. These works are predominantly solicited in support of tenders, pitches, proposals as well as self- originated own product and branding concepts.

    The barcode and ownership is so visible that anyone who sought to barcode a piece of work that was knowingly not their own would be doing so in a highly public way.
    Most misappropriations are conducted behind closed door not in full public view. If misappropriation did occur, the perpetrator would have had a direct relationship with the other party. Creative Barcode does not protect 'retrospective' works but new works.

    The second point you raise regards establishing a binding agreement is covered by the 'acceptance of terms' by the recipient party. Creative Barcode does advise against 'unsolicited' file sending.
    If users do not heed that advice, the recipient party still has the option of not downloading the file.
    The fact it is not downloaded is recorded in the database. If they opt to download, they can only do so by accepting the terms and conditions. The t & c's are short and simple “you make not commercialise the works without the Originators permission”.

    Overall it is a permission based ethical trading model designed for professional originators and those seeking to engage with them where 'both' parties interests are protected.

    We hope that it would be a rare occurrence that a case comes to court.

    Hope that answers your excellent questions and allays any concerns you may have had.


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