Information as regards to the first adopter or user of a trade mark, first creator of an original work which is copyrightable or first inventor of a patentable product and/or process, is mandatory for the proper identification of the beneficiary/owner of the intellectual property; the beneficiary is entitled to claim proprietorship in them and to derive economic benefits by their exploitation.

Disputes often arise as to who is the primary creator or user of an IP asset. Two or more persons (physical or corporate) may claim proprietorship in an intellectual asset. Providing reliable proof of being the primary creator is quite complicated. Moreover, in today’s digital complex world, creation of false evidence and the tampering of such, without any trace, has become an easy task for mischievous individuals.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) has launched a new digital business service to address this issue of proving ownership in an intellectual asset in the current digital world; namely WIPO PROOF. It is a prevention and protection mechanism for the intellectual property assets (even for assets that are not registered) to secure proof and ensure that user’s digital file has been created by himself at specific time and date and has not undergone any modification.

WIPO PROOF is a token that contains a unique digital fingerprint, which provides a reliable and verifiable evidence in case of disputes. To complete the process, a public key is also added to the digital signature so as authenticity is indeed secured. WIPO PROOF tokens can then be downloaded and provide an unalterable proof of existence of digital files at the time when the token was created. Such digital files, authenticated by using WIPO PROOF, can also be validated by third parties by following a series of easy steps.

Public Key Infrastructure (“PKI”) is a well-established and reliable cryptographic technology that is one of the most internationally accepted and recognized digital certification methods.

WIPO proof tokens can be used to protect the existence of one’s ideas, whether it is audio-visual work, an industrial secret, industrial designs, a business plan and information on a digital file against third parties of inappropriate uses. . It also helps in creating a version history for iterations of software code, research results, and lab notes.

Additionally, trade secrets as an IP right are difficult to enforce. They exist only as long as the information remains a secret. Trade secrets may comprise a formula, a manufacturing process, a software algorithm, a recipe, a list of clients, a business plan or other relevant assets. It is essential to take steps to protect their confidentiality and prevent misappropriation thereof. In case where a trade secret has been violated, it becomes difficult to prove who the first to retrieve such information was. If such an information has been kept as secret, then it would be very challenging in proving that it has ever been in existence.

Moreover, copyrights, give protection to the owner or the author of an original work to the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit exploitation/use of his work by others, thus providing the owner some element of control on the work created/owned by them. Any work that has been originally created, is protected as copyright of the creator/owner as soon as it is created and obtaining registration or any other statutory protection is not required. However, in case of a dispute, it is helpful to be able to provide an inconvertible evidence of the existence of the work at a specific point in time. This is where such significant evidence can be provided with the help of WIPO PROOF. If an author generates a WIPO PROOF token prior to publishing their new work, it can be instrumental in the provision of sufficient evidence to prove its authorship.

Moreover, WIPO may offer the choice to issue premium certificates that prove the existence and ownership of the intellectual property asset at a certain time and that can be issued as documentary evidence in the language of the country that will be required in any litigation. Such certificates are stamped and signed by WIPO.

For further information and assistance, feel free to get in touch with Xenia Kasapi, Head of our Intellectual Property & Data Protection Department.