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Barcode Use to Help Protect Creativity

zebra3One cannot copyright an idea only the manifestation of an idea, even though the core idea is probably where the real intrinsic value rests.

Whether it is an invention, TV format or piece of music one is very vulnerable when trying to win backers to invest, commission or promote an idea. Many organisations are very honourable, but even so the law books are peppered with cases where disputes have arisen about an organisation being accused of copying an idea but not giving credit to the instigator of the idea. Excuses include our idea is similar, but sufficiently different to suggest it is a different manifestation and therefore no breach of copyright. Another excuse is we were thinking along similar lines when you submitted your idea.

One could ask an organization to sign a non disclosure agreement (NDA) but companies may be reluctant to do. Also, if you are trying to build a long term relationship you may not wish to suggest from the start you do not trust the business you wish to invest in your idea. Even if an NDA is signed it is not guaranteed it will offer you the protection you need. There is no such thing as a water tight agreement. Smart lawyers will find some twist or turn.

One step to help protect the integrity and origin of an idea is the Creative Barcode conceived by Maxine Horn who also founded the British Design Innovation.

The Creative Barcode is a software application which generates a unique digital barcode  which contains a record  of date, source of creation and extent of permission for the idea to be transmitted to third parties. The barcode can be incorporated or embedded in a proposal, concept, film and so forth.

The barcode is underpinned by Trust Charter whereby the idea originator and the third party agree to be bound by the Charter. The idea originator states the idea is original and the third party agrees to use the idea in accordance with permission granted by the idea originator.

A third party user has to accept adherence to the Charter before the idea is sent.

As part of the Charter should a dispute arise then the parties agree to use the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Centre, although neither party is prevented from using court redress if appropriate.

Blue Pencil will be exploring Creative Barcoding in subsequent editions, but it does provide a basis to create a cogent audit trail and record of how an idea is circulated and used.

It has particular attraction to inventors who have not yet secured patent protection, an concept that is brand driven where trademarks have not been secured, and ideas for submission of film and TV projects. The increasing use of crowd sourcing or funding to help finance a project means that an idea is open to the public, and very much at risk of plagarism. If bar coding can help control inappropriate copying of ideas and concepts this should help encourage innovation, and create a more level playing field between the idea originator and the all parties who become privy to the concept.

©Julian Wilkins 2011

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