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Bolivian Cyber Activists Uncover Potential QR Code Patent

Categories: Latin America, Bolivia, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, Economics & Business, Technology

Bolivian cyber activists worked collectively to unfold a potential unlawful patent over the use of Quick Response Codes, known as QR codes [1], in the country.

Earlier this month, Bolivian netizen @hermany [2] [es] sparked curiosity when he enquired on Twitter about the alleged patented use of QR codes in Bolivia:

@hermany [3]: ¿Alguien la Paz me puede decir si Advice Marketing Ltda. patentó los QR y hay que pagarles a ellos por el uso? #Boliva [4] #Tech [5] #fraude [6]?

@hermany [3]: Can anyone in La Paz tell me if Advice Marketing Ltda. patented QR codes and one must pay this company for using them? #Boliva [4] #Tech [5] #fraude [6]?


Photo by Lydia Shiningbrightly (CC BY 2.0)

The company’s website has withdrawn the patent announcement from its website, but activist Daniel Cotillas (@danicotillas [8]) [es] captured and shared a screenshot [9] [es].

Following up with the collective enquiring under the hashtag #QRBolivia [10], blogger Mario Durán from El Alto got in touch with the Intellectual Property National Service [11] [es] (SENAPI in Spanish) and representatives of the company.

Mario has been posting regular updates on the case in his blog [12] [es] under the question, “Can the use of QR codes in Bolivia be patented?”

According to the information gathered by Mario, Advice Marketing officially states [13] [es, pdf] that QR codes can be publicly used just by notifying them in advance. Meanwhile, officials from SENAPI confirmed [12] [es] that the company applied for the patent back in September 2012; however, SENAPI has not issued a resolution on the matter (the legal term to reach a decision is 18 months). Therefore, such patent or restriction may not be applicable.

Bolivian cyber activists will surely keep a close watch on the issue as the case develops in the coming months. You can follow their discussion under the hashtag #QRBolivia [10].