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Quirky Quick Response Codes

I've just discovered that there is now a field of QR-codes now being called Quirky Quick Response Codes,  or QuiRC's. This term is now apparently the official name of what I have been doing to my QR-codes in artworks since 2007, when I warp them and make them more organic looking and less like a machine readable code. 

Matthew Kulseth, a lawyer from Minnesota has written a paper on how the use of QuiRC's as trademarks could challenge the Lanham act in America. It's in Cybaris, An Intellectual Property Law Review and the title is  "Twenty-first Century Trademarks; How Quirky Quick Response Codes (QuiRC's) will challenenge the Lanham Act and the USPTO", and was published mid-way through 2012, so not too long ago. 

The Lanham act prevents a number of activites such as trademark infringment, false advertising and other similar activities.  I guess the use of a QR code in a logo or trademark would have all types of ethical implications, particularly since DensoWave own the patent for all QR-codes in general. However if the code has been altered, so it is no longer a straight QR-code then the copyright issues get even more hairy. Definately food for thought and it is really important to be aware of the final uses of a code in the public arena. 

I was quite chuffed to discover that I have been credited in the paper as being the first person to use QuiRC's in the public domain! There is a section in the paper, called The Genesis of QR Codes, where he discusses how Fabrice de Nola created a series of paintings using QR codes in 2006. He then goes on to say:

"Indicative of how QR-Code images would ultimately be modified, in 2008, the  Australian-born artist Simone O'Callaghan used screenprinting to push the technology's limits by drastically softening the lines contained in a QR Code image. The work premiered on March the 3, 2008 in an exhibit called "Signals in the City" at the Hannah Maclure Centre in Dundee, United Kingdom. This is likely the first QuiRC; it looks very little like a traditional QR Code image but still preserves its usefulness. Strangely enough, it would only be a matter of days before the first marketing QuiRC appeared in London, United Kingdom.", p 38

I find it amazing that my pottering in the studio, trying to de-uglify QR codes has had far wider implications that I ever could have concieved, playing a small part in impacting areas such as IP law and the interpretation of the trademark acts. At the same time, I also find it humbling, because it is a reminder, that when putting any work out into the pubic domain it must be able to withstand all types of people digging it up and referring to it, so it better be good!

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Reader Comments (2)

Thanks, it was nice coming across a reflective journal in blog form

May 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterramble

Hi Simone,
These are my contact details:
+61 400 750 752

If you send a "test" email to confirm you have received this I will get back with more details about your stay in Hamilton.

December 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBronwen Redgate

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