WIPO launches own digital evidence service WIPO PROOF

On 27 May 2020, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) launched its global online service WIPO PROOF, which produces tamper-proof evidence regarding the existence of a digital file at a specific time.

The new service is available through the WIPO IP Portal within the category ‘Digital Evidence’ and the dedicated website for WIPO PROOF. A video featuring Director General Francis Gurry and the press release can be viewed here

WIPO noted the new service is a “significant step in expanding [its] suite of services that meet the demands of the digital economy” and constitutes an additional “way to safeguard valuable intellectual assets” of innovators and creators. Likewise, the tool will help “mitigate the risk of future legal disputes” and lay “a foundation for any eventual registration of a formal IP right”. 

This TechieKat already used WIPO PROOF. So, here is her report. 

The timestamp tokens

WIPO acts as a time-stamping authority (TSA) by issuing a token (a unique digital fingerprint of a digital file in any format and size) which, once it is generated, is stored on WIPO servers in Switzerland. 

It is important to highlight that the digital file is not uploaded to WIPO servers but rather “a strong cryptographic hashing function processes [it] … while still in its original location, producing a hash value uniquely identifying that file”. 

According to WIPO PROOF time-stamping policy (available here), the service is aligned “with best practices, standards and regulations at all times”, which, inter alia, include the eIDAS Regulation (Regulation 910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market) and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) RFC 3161 protocol (Internet X.509 Public Key Infrastructure Time-stamp Protocol). 

Intellectual assets categories

The new service can be used for creating digital evidence of intellectual assets, irrespective of whether they are also formally protected by IP rights. So, digital files used for creating tokens may contain trade secrets, artificial intelligence algorithms, textile patterns, scientific research data, scripts, musical scores, and business documents. 

The following categories are available when the creation of a token is requested on WIPO PROOF dashboard
  • Trade secret (undisclosed know-how) 
  • Creative work (audio, visual, or literary work) 
  • Creative design (brand logo, pattern, textile, architecture, and other) 
  • Industrial design (technical schematic, plans, process and other) 
  • Code (for software, applications, games and other) 
  • Research (lab notes, reports or other findings) 
  • Data (AI algorithm training, genetic sequencing, and other) 
  • Digitally signed document (contracts, letters, certificates and other)
  • Other (e.g. damage documentation or unsigned documents) 

Creating a token

The process for generating a token is straightforward. The requirements are a WIPO account, the digital file in any format, and a payment method (e.g. a current account at WIPO or purchased bundle of tokens). 

As mentioned above, the digital file is not uploaded to WIPO servers but rather only selected from the device where it is located. Up to 20 files can be selected in bulk. 

One file equates one token, which costs CHF 20. Bundles of tokens are also available to purchase: 10 tokens (CHF 190), 100 tokens (CHF 1,800), 200 tokens (CHF 3,400) and so on. If a bundle is purchased, the token created is deducted from the total amount of the bundle. The purchased bundles are valid for two years, after which the unused tokens are lost. 

The ownership of the file must be also indicated: a natural person owns the file; a person is authorized by the company/organization owning the file or is a legal representative of the owner of the file. WIPO PROOF users’ obligations, which inter alia include the accuracy of the information submitted, can be viewed here

Once the payment has been processed, the token is generated and can be downloaded immediately; a copy of it is stored on WIPO’s servers. A detailed explanation of the technical process for creating a token is available here and here

WIPO PROOF tokens do not expire. However, they are safely kept on WIPO’s servers for five years, which can be renewed for another 5 years by paying a fee. 

Verifying a token 

The token generated by WIPO PROOF can be verified online by anyone here. The validation process takes a few seconds for one token. The requirements are the digital file and the WIPO PROOF to validate (a WIPO account is not required). 

The validation process consists of the technical comparison between “the hash of the original digital file [and] the hash contained in the WIPO PROOF token”. If they match, a message indicating that the validation was successful is displayed. Likewise, the message also contains the day and time (including seconds) in which the token was created and verified. 

At this stage, a premium certificate confirming the validation process can be requested for CHF 20. The certificate is stamped and signed by WIPO. A sample of the premium certificate can be viewed here

If the digital file has been modified, the validation process is not be carried out and the following message appears: “Token could not be successfully verified as it's either invalid or does not match with the submitted digital work”. 


The launch of the new WIPO service was widely expected. Contrary to some assumptions, WIPO PROOF is not using blockchain (inter alia due to anonymity reasons, as indicated by WIPO here) but rather Public Key Infrastructure technology. However, an optional blockchain component may be added in the future. 

Likewise, it should not be assumed that WIPO PROOF grants IP protection. As such, the tool does not replace the national or regional IP registration systems in place worldwide. 

This Kat thinks the tool will be useful, not only to individual creators but also to those interested in the management of intellectual assets, including complex IP rights portfolios handled in-house and by law firms. 

However, it should be borne in mind that WIPO PROOF tokens and premium certificates do not endorse the veracity or content of the information contained in the digital file but solely evidence the existence of such digital file at a specific point of time and which has not been modified

Certainly, this TechieKat is rubbing her paws to see how WIPO PROOF evidence will be used in IP disputes in those jurisdictions in which digital evidence is legally recognized and accepted. 

The first image is from WIPO official website. 
The second and third images are courtesy of GuestKat Riana Harvey.
WIPO launches own digital evidence service WIPO PROOF WIPO launches own digital evidence service WIPO PROOF Reviewed by Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo on Thursday, May 28, 2020 Rating: 5

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