Creative Barcode, through open protection, brings trust based open innovation to professional creative industries worldwide. It is a first in open protection that uses data encoded barcodes underpinned by an ethical, trust and permissions based agreement (legally binding) between Originators of works and those wishing to view, co-create, license, buy or invest.
It is underpinned by a trust and ethics permissions based receipt of files forming and agreement between Originator and recipient. Barcodes and the simple terms and conditions are highly visible and monitored by a trusted third party.
Creative Barcode was developed by a UK co-creation team of 5 designers and innovation proposition developers.
All team members work in creative industries either as practioners or intermediaries and each has over 20 years experience, except for one recent graduate we engaged for the benefit of a youthful viewpoint and having been born in the digital age.
I personally have been involved in pioneering open innovation business models such as Open Innovation Challenge (OIC) developed with Procter & Gamble in partnership with NESTA.
All team members are strongly supportive of an open society supported by open protection that is under-pinned by ethical and equitable trading between Originators and those wishing to engage them.
"It is said that 90% of people need to live by rules as 10% of people do not live by values"
Without these frameworks the participation of professional creative industries in open innovation would either be curtailed or they could suffer from widespread exploitation.
We recognised that a push towards open source as a blanket application to creative industries posed a significant threat to the economic structure of an entire professional industry.
Therefore, a new model that enabled an open-society and the participation of arguably the worlds most naturally talented innovators in it, was badly needed.
A growing number number of incidents had been reported which involved innovative propositions submitted in context of genuine and necessary business negotiations being misapropriated.
Rather than purposeful and intended misappropriation, most incidents appear to have been driven more by naiveity and a misunderstanding of what is and isn't public domain.
None the less it highlighted major flaws in the entire open innovation ethos.
Business to business open innovation most often necessitates exposure of early stage, non-protected concepts to potential commercialisation partners.
If such exposure leads commercial parties to believe open calls are a legitimate opportunity to use the works of participating Originators without permission nor purchase, then the open innovation eco-system is likely to rapidly break down. Or continue but without the participation of a large faction of arguably some of the world's natural and most talented innovators.
However, all things considered it was concluded that closed, tight and restricted IPR laws were not conducive to a progressive open society.
Our problem solving was therefore focused on developing an 'open protection' system under-pinned by a highly visible trust and ethics based permissions model.
Adopting QR code technologies and creating a new market application that enabled users to create data-encoded barcodes to protect concepts and communicate the terms of exposure was the solution.
From start to launch date it took just over 12 months to scope, research, design, develop, build and launch, at the same time as juggling day jobs.
An interest free loan was provided to support the set-up, hosting and build costs
Having the freedom to embark upon an innovation journey unencumbered by hierachy or internal politics does have its distinct upsides. However, at least one person must take the management lead but do so in a balanced manner and never ride rough shod over any other parties ideas.
In co-creation decision making is far more diplomatic. That is a positive as it enables complete team buy-in and keeps all parties heading in the same direction with one shared vision and one end goal.
We used the 'division of labour' management model to best effect. The skill balance of the team dictated that each party had core skills not held entirely by other parties. Thereby each party had a sense of responsibility and ownership over their part of the jigsaw but worked cohesively with the other parties to ensure it would all fit together to create a complete solution.
We came up against challenges, timing issues were one and project management of the web build. The web build was the only out-sourced element. The external party did not have the benefit of undertaking the full journey with the in-house team and was therefore on a steeper learning curve and needed more guidance and management.
But overall it provided good evidence that co-creation, a skills based division of labour; the right balance of personalities; a budget and a deadline is core to the innovation journey.
Larger corporate firms might gleen from this that creative freedom with light touch management could enable co-created innovation journey's to exist in-house.
Many have witnessed visionary people leaving their organisation in order to pursue an innovation journey.
Reasons often cited are too much hierachial layers to go through to obtain permissions and buy-in; internal politics stops play and sometimes a not invented here kill-joy hampering what could otherwise have been an innovation success for the corporate organisation.
We are believers in corporate firms putting up time and budgets to enable internal open innovation challenges to take place amongst employees forming co-creation teams.
Singular employee ideas are unlikely to be as rounded, well thought through, holistic and validated as a team effort underpinned by a balance of skills from people who chose to work together.
Different team members would be busy just at the point others really need their focused input. And keeping the shared vision on track when technical difficulties arose that at first appeared insurmountable was tough at times.
Another issue we had to contend with was being restricted in what we could expose to other parties who we needed to gain feedback and assistance from.
That was an interesting one for Creative Barcode as this was the very issue it was seeking to address. How do you maintain confidentiality whilst seeking to gain vital input from the market?
Internal co-creation teams would have less of an issue with confidentiality if they had access to other key parts of the organisation to seek feedback and concept validation. However they would have similar issues if they needed to seek external customer feedback or other market viewpoints.
We addressed this challenge by creating a series of provocative articles that centered on the cultural nature of the problem - ideas theft. We also used social media networks to fire up contencious debates.
These articles and debates enabled a 360 degree viewpoint to be researched, assessed, understood and acted upon.
Viewpoints were gathered from Creative individuals and firms, the legal profession, broader industry, intermediary and opinion former perspectives.
The debates featured responses from all of the above categories with each party putting their point of view across, often extremely strongly.
In doing so it provided contant litmus paper testing during the development stages to ensure the end product and service was on point and caused no negative reaction to the audiences and professional groups whose buy-in would be required.
It also highlighted market assumptions. A key assumption held by many creative industry operatives was a belief that their core ideas and propositions were automatcially protected by copyright. They are not.
Huge arguments ensued between lawyers, creatives and opinion formers regards all ideas having no or little value until they had been commercialised by a route to market party.
Claiming thereby that Originators had no rightful claim over any idea, regardless of how well articulated it was, how much creativity and technical problem solving was inherent, nor extensive knowledge or know-how that had been applied up to the point it was exposed to a party best positioned to commercialise the concept.
The 'public domain' debate also posed another interesting argument and challenged myths, beliefs and assumptions.
The vested -interest belief by non creative professions was that one to one business discussions constituted 'public-domain' . This was hotly contested.
Interestingly the legal profession very quietly came out on the side of the creative professions on that one.
They set the tone for the under-pinning of Creative Barcode as a permissions based model supported by an 'agreement' on trust and ethics based on a point of law 'duty of confidentiality'.
Building in the agreement system (time efficient, logical, non-complex and ethical) was crucial to the success of an open-protection model.
If challenged via a breech of agreement, Creative Barcode users will not be faced with a complex, expensive and time consuming legal battle based on weak copyright.
Instead they will be supported by time, location, recipient, download and acceptance of terms and conditions data, provided by a trusted and non commercially involved third party (Creative Barcode) to substantiate, without doubt, the breech of agreement.
Creative Barcode only has one rule. No element of works including know how and knowledge, covered by a barcode, expressed in writing, visually, technically or strategically may be commercialised by the recipient party without the written permission of the Originator.
These firms provide a rich and diverse set of innovation, technical and creative skills of high value to businesses seeking to innovate and utilise external contributions to problem solving and new business opportunity creation.
Through open-protection and a simple and ethical (legally binding) operating standard, Creative Barcode has enabled these two critical parties to more easily share knowledge and embark on co-creation to ensure early stage concepts are developed with strategic business objectives in mind coupled with user-centred consumer benefits.
Creative Barcode has challenged the status quo whilst enabling a more open yet less vulnerable ideas exchange.
It may challenge purveyors of open-source and Creative Commons to remain within their sphere of appropriatness rather than push a model through to creative industries that may hamper growth or even lead to demise.
IP Insurance companies have recognised Creative Barcode as a risk reduction tool
Brand owners have recognised Creative Barcode as an open innovation risk management tool
And Creative Industries should become less vulnerable and more able to freely express their passion for creativity and innovation with peace of mind that ethical and permission based agreements will significantly reduce exploitation.
The management style is a division of labour and 360 degree holistic approach to an innovation journey.
A 360 degree approach enables the needs, issues and impacts on the internal operations and the external mix of players such as suppliers, distributors, retailers through to end customer to be pre-empted and factored in during the development phases.
Creative industries comprise many 1000's of individuals and micro sized companies who are key contributors to innovation, new business models and value-added profit creation yet they are hugely vulnerable to exploitation
An open society and open innovation cannot reach its full potential without the skills of the creative industries
Vulnerability and lack of protection over early stage concepts holds back their participation in open innovation problem solving activities
The use of the public domain has been stretched too far to encompass exposure of ideas in one to one private business negotiations. This is not public domain, it falls under duty of confidentiality
Duty of confidentiality is inherent in CSR policies. Misappropriation of another party's works for commercial benefit to the business but of negative damage to the Originator would undermine a CSR policy. In some cases, where such works are passed off by an employee as their own works, it could be considered as plagiarism
Most often Corporate brands will not (or cannot) sign NDA'S/CDA's for fear of negative impact on their own IPR
Corporate brands will not/cannot view a concept that is not patent protected
An estimated 70% of innovation is not subject to patent
Inventors and industrial designers and designer makers are hampered by or deterred by the cost of patent applications and registration fees
Corporate brands often seek to circumvent a patent rather than license, co-create or remunerate an Originator
A lack of ethics or a belief that 'all' ideas have no value, however so articulated and backed by a full know-how, knowledge and technical blueprint, has given rise to mass exploitation of the professional creative industries
Open Source with or without a Creative Commons license is not an appropriate economic model for creative industries at large. It threatens the growth or even the demise of creative industries
The growing use of crowdsourcing and ideas based competitions no longer contained to users/customers/employees/consumers but extended into professional creative industries with no IP regard or remuneration is currently non sustainable and will not attract participation of the best of field
A new trading model for sharing ideas, co-creation and equitable procurement backed by permission based open protection, should create a virtuous circle
Emily Miller, Richard Wolfstrome, Nathaneal Marsh, David Farrington and Maxine Horn
Linked In Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing Group > discussion 'Is the Knowledge Economy Achievable when Knowledge Theft is so Easy
Joren De Wachter - the rise of the public domain
Joris Verrips - challenging and ulteristic support
UK IPO Business to Business Strategy Group - challenging and knowledge building support
British Design Innovation - knowledge building base and feedback
Anti-Copying in Design (ACID) superb endorsement and moral support
Friends, colleagues and family