A novel way to protect your innovative ideas and projects - Business Works
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A novel way to protect your innovative ideas and projects

Maxine Horn, CEO, Creative Barcode Government messaging continues to focus on innovation as the core means to regenerate business and economic growth. UK Government agency BIS has launched a myriad of funded initiatives aimed at stimulating innovation in SMEs. These include the Going for Growth, Start-Up Britain and Innovation Voucher schemes to encourage SMEs to hook up with Universities, Technology Strategy Board initiatives and the Local Enterprise Partnerships. In all instances, innovation activities bring Intellectual Property (IP) issues into sharp focus. The UK IP system has been under review since David Cameron appointed Ian Hargreaves to begin the process of industry consultation in November 2010.

Arguably, Intellectual Property has become a battle field, often used as a weapon between competing mega brands. Many have concluded that the current IP system is not fit for a digital age and in context of the creative industries that would hold true as illegal file sharing, pirate music and film sites and counterfeit designer-goods are in danger of destroying the economic infrastructure of the creative industries.

However, simply introducing tighter IP regulations, all stick and no carrot solutions, or holding consumers responsible for copyright theft, is unlikely to result in positive solutions that open up innovation. Such approaches are more likely to cause further negativity and resentment.

Worldwide access to the internet means that any business launching a new product or service today does so internationally. Does that make country-by-country, European or even Hague IP registration slightly redundant?

Anyone, other than an IP lawyer, who has experienced registration of a worldwide trademark, design registration or patent application, will know that the process can involve eye-crossing complexity at an eye-watering cost. And IP enforcement is even more complex and costly.

The innovation process starts with applying new thinking to a business, its products, services and processes. In the vast majority of cases it is an individual's or group of individuals’ in-depth knowledge of a sector that results in identifying market gaps and new opportunities. Brainstorming sessions result in a series of ideas that are sifted and evaluated for commercial viability before being developed into articulated concepts.

In the vast majority of cases, no product or service ever came to market without the core expertise of several internal and external parties. Thereby, all innovation is collaborative, whether it is incremental, evolutionary, revolutionary or disruptive. And all innovation activities involve time, knowledge, commitment and cash investment.

As such, prior to commercialisation, the first element any individual or business wishes to protect is the ‘innovation concepts’. And that’s where the problems can begin.

Traditional IP mechanisms do not protect innovation concepts. Thereby to enable collaboration, discussion, development and market testing to take place, concept generators often find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. An innovation concept is most vulnerable pre-commercialisation. Most individuals and businesses tend to rely purely upon non-disclosure agreements. However, rarely does one business accept the NDA issued by another business without two lawyers being involved and that’s before a conversation to establish interests can even take place. Fall at first hurdle.

In reality, to open up safe conversations, all that is required is a non-complex, low cost system that places ethics, trust, equality and fair dealing at its core, but is legally robust.

These are the very principles upon which Creative Barcode based and developed its pre- and post-commercialised concept protection system. Its solution has resulted in the first innovation in the IP sector for more than three decades and one that is fit for the digital age.

Creative Barcode is legally robust and all users have the additional support of the World Intellectual Property Organisations’ (WIPO) mediation service should any breach of trust arise. Not a single breach has occurred since its launch 18 months ago, despite having attracted users from more than 18 Countries across 5 continents.

Creative Barcode The system enables firms to register, download an App and use it to create digital 2D (QR) barcodes and apply them to innovation concepts, written proposals and creative works before disclosing them to any third party through the file transfer system. The recipient accepts the ‘one page’ Trust Charter before files can be downloaded.

In essence, the Trust Charter forms an ‘agreement’ between the two parties. An agreement that only has two warranties, one on either side. The Concept discloser warrants to the recipient that the innovation concept is authentic, owned by them and is theirs to disclose. The recipient warrants to the Concept owner not to utilise any information disclosed, be it written or visual, without the owner's permission. (The Trust Charter can also be publicly signed by any business that agrees with its principles - click here).

All transactions are recorded by the Creative Barcode database and each Concept owner's transactions are available for them to view. The transaction forms an ‘agreement’ and the only possible breach of that agreement would be use of disclosed works without permission. No Creator would barcode a concept that was not theirs, as it a legal undertaking and to do so would land them in serious hot water and ruin their career. The barcode (one per entire project) is applied to all file iterations throughout the innovation journey and remains visible to all parties – unlike an NDA which is only ever seen again when a problem arises.

Creative Barcode In the case of completed works displayed on the internet for marketing, sales and PR purposes a micro-barcode is applied to denote permission-based use only and includes the owner's details for ease of contact and licensing. Barcodes travel with documents and visuals and therefore, if published on third party web sites, remain credited to the Originator.

So, in summary, Creative barcode opens up innovation - it doesn't restrict it. And it does so in a fast, non-complex and cost-efficient way, based on the human principles of trust, ethics, equality and fair-trading, wrapped up in an easy to use, but legally-robust process. It costs just £30 per annum including the App and 5 barcodes. Thereafter, users simply buy more barcodes as needed.

Creative Barcode is increasingly utilised as the IP mechanism of choice by ideation and collaborative innovation portals and their users, worldwide. For example, in June 2012 www.innovationbank.co.uk, a safe-trading portal for collaborative innovation, launched in partnership with Creative Barcode.

Creative Barcode has hugely ambitious plans afoot to further develop its mechanisms and supporting infrastructure to meet its objectives to become the IP safe pre-commercialisation mechanism world-wide and to extend its micro-barcode into a Digital Rights Management system to become the internet IP button of the digital age. It is seeking funding and co-creation partners now and invites any relevant reader to get in touch.

You can find more information about Creative Barcode, sign the charter or register at: www.creativebarcode.com

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