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Brighton Rocks to Creative Barcode

55 Brighton

One 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 a 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. Her Brighton based not for profit company Creative Barcode is winning much attention as a cost-effective solution to protecting copyright.

The Creative Barcode is a software application which generates a unique digital barcode that 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. People subscribing to the Creative Barcode and also the recipients of material carrying the creative Barcode agree to consider using WIPO’s mediation services.

BluePencil 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, a 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 your material being plagiarized. 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.

As such those who could benefit considerably from this system is considerable ranging from designers, brand consultants, engineers, product designers and scientists.

One group who are constantly worried about the misuse of their work includes photographers, artists and illustrators. The Creative Barcode system can ensure that for instance browsers download images only with the permission of the rights owner.
Creative Barcode are encouraging that registered users of the system mark their material with the Creative Barcode icon to highlight their commitment to ethical conduct regarding the use of intellectual property.

Creative Barcode's CEO, Maxine Horn, observes 'it is fitting that a Brighton based team of designers and innovators developed a non-complex approach to Intellectual Property which could be utilized as part of the UK government solutions and thereby benefit the many 1000's of UK creators operating in a worldwide market'.


It is highly likely that the Creative Barcode will feature predominantly in the current United Kingdom review of Intellectual Property, The Hargreaves Review, which is currently considering solutions to fit the digital age which create a balance between protecting someone's creative work and allowing reasonable consumer access.


Another spin-off appears that Creative Barcode is highlighting Brighton as one of the UK's hotspots for creativity and IP innovation and as their local Member of Parliament Mike Weatherley opines, 'Brighton and Hove is renowned for its creative industries. It is home to hundreds of design, games and digital development forms, who generate innovation works, create jobs and help to build upon the status of the UK as a hotbed of creativity'


A far cry from Mods, Rockers and Graham Greene's Pinkie.

Julian Wilkins

Julian Wilkins is Editorial Director for Blue Pencil Media Limited. Julian has a LLB (Hons) in law and M.Phil in law as well as a Diploma in European law and was admitted as a solicitor in 1988; he practices in the area of media, entertainment, and intellectual property law as a consultant for Devereaux Solicitors in London. Julian is also a Notary Public and CEDR accredited commercial mediator. Julian has written for academic publications and contributed to an Exhibition Catalogue about 1960s photographer Philip Townsend. Julian is a member of the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers and also the British Institute of International and Comparative law. Julian is a finalist in The Media Lunch Club “Short Circuit” script competition to be held in November 2011. Julian’s comments “The rapidly changing world economy and technology is presenting incredible opportunities for the Creative Industries and Blue Pencil hopes to reflect and contribute to these changes.”

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