15 January 2017

The UK has opportunity to Innovate the Intellectual Property sector

There is enormous scope to innovate within the IP sector and never more so than post the repeal of section 52 of the Copyright, designs and patents act 1988 and the referendum result.

IP law has become far too complex over the Centuries yet the purpose of Copyright remains just as simple now as it was when the Statute of Anne came into effect in 1710 – and essentially that is to enable Creators the right to earn a living from their artistic works and be accurately credited as the creator and/or owner.  That same purpose was extended to brands (trademarks), 3D designs and inventions (patents)

In the digital age any person with a creative talent can produce works others would like to use. However what requires development is a cost effective and simple means for others to transact directly with Creators on a mass scale.

In terms of industrial design and to lesser extent professional 2D design, licensing deals tend to be negotiated on a one to one basis generally involving two sets of lawyers. That process may remain unchanged where complex and high value licensing deals are concerned. Without a formal licensing infrastructure in place that is accessible, simple and low cost for designers, their ability to generate revenue from non-exclusive licenses is at best, curtailed.

However, three technologies can or will drive change for designers and manufacturers.  These include 3D Printing; Blockchain and transaction systems to support automated licensing.

Blockchain is the technology behind digital currencies such as bitcoin.  Experts say it represents the second generation of the Internet, and has the potential to not only transform the financial services industry but anything of monetary value such as IP, creative digital assets, designs, inventions, music, art and so forth.

The Internet was created for storing, moving, searching and displaying information. Blockchain is built for authenticating asset ownership and its value and transparently recording transactions in an irrefutable manner, in perpetuity.

However, whilst blockchain would play a critical role in a new licensing infrastructure, it is a new business model that is required to achieve disruption and open up a new market place for the trading of IP.

Creative Barcode has studied blockchain development and its ability to transform the IP sector.  A full feasibility exercise has been undertaken culminating in the design of a 360-degree business model. The IP blockchain model seeks to do for design what Netflix did for film and iTunes and Spotify did for music.


If achieved, post a £7.5 million fund raise, licensing a design for 3D print will become as easy as purchasing and streaming a film or music track.  And in the future both 2D and 3D designers will be able to develop their own consumer base of customers simply by licensing files purchased through an automated system. By teaming up with 3D printing hubs new design-to-print-to-order businesses will emerge.  

Creative Barcode / IP Blockchain has established an advisory board to include representatives of the IPO, British Library, Renfrew Group, Ernst Young, IBM and industry bodies CSD, SBID, 100% Design and Creative Pool.

However, without substantial investment and a leap of faith, implementation of the business model remains on the runway. Post Brexit, both private and public sector investment remains stagnant but when things are more settled and confidence is restored opportunity will emerge.

It’s interesting to note that the former Prime Minister, David Cameron launched the original Hargreaves IP Review with one question  - could the UK have established a Google? Google launched with $25 million investment and thus has become omnipotent. The UK has a new opportunity to lead the second generation Internet with investment into blockchain new business models and could therefore play an important part in innovation in the Intellectual Property sector.

Over 7 million new 3D designs are launched each year, 6 million of which remain unregistered designs and are therefore notoriously difficult to trade without a simple means of identifying owner, date of first sale, availability to license, terms and an automated transaction system.

The repeal of article 52 means an end to mass produced replicas and a move to formal license to manufacture where both sales and royalties due, can be transparently recorded on blockchain along with the formal creator, owner and IP status.

The amount of new 2D designs and digital visual assets launched each year is incalculable

If the Government wishes the result of Brexit to be a new beginning for the UK and the empowerment of every creative citizen to generate their own job and income, then investment in the infrastructure needed to facilitate that must be forthcoming. 

If it is a myriad of new businesses can be formed and the strength of the UK as a transaction-led, creative design, digital and manufacturing base will be transformed.




Maxine J Horn
Creative Barcode

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