SOS -- can you hear the ducks?

"Have brains, will travel", was the IPKat's first thought when he first encountered the term "Intellectual Passport".  One of his readers would however like to know a little more about the term.  He writes:
"I hope you are well [Yes, thanks, says the IPKat, about as well as a fictional feline can be -- though he's due for a reality check some time soon ...]. I am emailing to ask if you would post a query on the IPKat blog [If the Kat wasn't feeling well before, this is the sort of thing that acts as a wonderful tonic: a chance to pose a problem to that wonderful body of crowd-sourced intellectual property wisdom, this blog's excellent readers]. 
A client has just mentioned that she is being encouraged by a Canadian customer to apply for an “Intellectual Passport” with regard to a particular technology. I hadn’t come across this before and, upon looking into it, it seems to be (to put it politely) of dubious effectiveness. 
I wondered if any IPKat reader had come across this before, and could point me to any case law or authoritative discussion and/or debunking of it.  The information I have found comes from the originating company and can hardly be considered unbiased. See for example here [French, document but with the option of reading in English and Spanish] and also here".
The Kat notes that the business concerned is called and he found this on its website:
"If you are the Creator of an invention, or of an original concept, and legitimately want to own your creation, the Intellectual Passport CB can help.

The principle behind the Intellectual Passport CB is simple: to own a creation using the laws surrounding a copyright, also known as a ‘work of the mind’.

An Inventor can be transformed into a recognized Creator by developing a document containing his creation. This document must be written by professionals following the parameters particular to the category of recognized art in which the creation belongs. In this case, literature.

The Intellectual Passport CB is the result of such a transformation. It affordably embodies the medium par excellence to transform an innovative concept into a literary and artistic document, perfected following the norms ruling copyrights. Your intellectual property is thus legally established. From that time, no one can produce, reproduce or interpret, in whole or in part, your literary and artistic creation (Intellectual Passport CB) for commercial purposes without your authorization.

Endowed with a great quality-price ratio, the Intellectual Passport CB helps you become the owner of your creation and preserve its secrets, while you are establishing an international strategy for its commercialization. It is therefore the instrument of choice to serenely attain the status of Creator".
A little quackery?
It would be unchivalrous to accuse a business that peddles this sort of thing of quackery, but this Kat can almost hear a celestial chorus of ducks chanting in unison, "S.O.S!" ("Save our souls!")  Merpel says, the whole thing actually makes perfect sense if you go through it and change the word "intellectual" to "ineffectual".

Do readers have any experiences of this business? If so, please share them with us!
SOS -- can you hear the ducks? SOS -- can you hear the ducks? Reviewed by Jeremy on Friday, February 03, 2012 Rating: 5


  1. The passport seems to be an interesting concept. They will take your invention and describe it in a book which will not be published. Then if anyone copies this unpublished work, to which they of course have no access, you can sue them for copying it. Or have I mistaken the concept?

  2. That's what I understood as well. And for this they charge $10k?

  3. The assertion that the contents of the unpublished passport can be used to invalidate a patent, seems to be based on US patent law, where you can invalidate a patent by showing that it was known to a third party in the US.

    A colleague once informed me that, when he worked for the UK subsidiary of a US company, it was practice for a description of anything potentially inventive to be sent to the US and signed and witnessed by someone in the US as insurance against the same thing being patented by a competitor.

    The passport would appear to have much the same legal status as the inventors' notebooks that US inventors are encouraged to keep as a means of establishing the date of conception, and which may become less important in the future as a consequence of the prospective change to "first to file".

  4. At the risk of sounding as if I am humouring them, how are they going to stop anyone interpreting this book?

  5. WHen I read the opening of this, I thought "Ah-ha! A stimulating article on the requirements for exporting technologies from China, or other such places, where government approval is needed for the overseas sale/licensing of domestically produced IP".

    But no.

    As to the quackery, I for one feel that a service such as this deserves nothing more than stale bread....

  6. "You can purchase your Intellectual Passport CB from $18,000. to $25,000., including the consulting fees."
    Gasp, choke, splutter....

  7. A veritable treasure trove:

    "When I learned that my patent had been counterfeited"

    "If, as it is asked by both the institutes and patent registration offices, as well as by so-called experts in intellectual property, a copyright is obtained free of charge and that its official registration is done for a small fee; why then does an Intellectual Passport costs $7,695 + consulting fees for a total of approximately $10,695 to $13,695 + taxes ? "

  8. As we are currently snowed in, I have amused myself by following the threads to the passport's web pages.

    It appears to be an edifice built on foundations of sand, insofar as it presumes that copyright is an absolute right and overlooks the fact that, for copyright to be enforced, the owner must usually prove that copying of the work in which copyright subsists, has taken place. It does not point out [or possibly realise] that this is different from patents and registered designs, where the right is absolute and action can be taken against someone who, in all innocence, has come up with the same thing independently.

    The fact that the passport remains confidential and unpublished must, ipso facto, surely be good evidence that no copying can possibly have taken place, and therefore no action against the alleged infringer for damages due to copying under copyright law would succeed.

    The documentation suggests that the contents of the passport will provide evidence that can be used to invalidate patent rights etc. [true in only in states such as the USA whose laws provide for invalidity due to prior secret knowledge] and will also entitle the copyright owner to damages for copyright infringement [false, given the prima facie impossibility of copying due to the secret nature of the passport].


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