Launched on 27 May 2020, the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO’s) new online business service, WIPO PROOF, will allocate a secure digital timestamp to any intellectual asset.
Trade secrets, software, art, lyrics, textile designs, research notes and know-how, amongst others, can all fall prey to misuse or misappropriation and WIPO PROOF will provide a tool for creating evidence of their existence at a specific point in time.
In terms of copyright, which is not registrable in the UK, the ability to prove the existence of a creative work at the time of creation will be valuable to safeguard it from infringement. Film productions and musical works are often collaborative efforts and the ability to log the existence of each individual input will assist in resolving any disagreements around authorship.
The process is straightforward; a user uploads a digital file in any electronic format and the local browser will generate a unique digital fingerprint of that file. The resulting WIPO PROOF token is downloaded, providing unalterable proof of existence of the digital file at that point in time. The token will be catalogued into one of the following categories:
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)
The service uses well-established Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology to generate the tokens which provides certainty that the date and time on the token is precise and has not been tampered with.
Whilst the system will not replace patents, trade marks and designs, it will be useful to complement formal IP registration and safeguard intellectual assets from concept to commercialisation, providing verifiable evidence in legal disputes.
Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.