Violating Trademark by Using QR Code?

There is a current thread in the 2D Codes for Global Media group on LinkedIn regarding a requirement to show the ® trademark symbol whenever using the term QR Code®.  Following is the text of a warning message sent by Denso Wave, the creator of the code, to a journalist who used it without the mark:

“I read with interest your recent article entitled “It’s All About the (QR) Code” within your newsletter that was dated January 31, 2012. Of particular interest was the reference to the term QR Code®.

“In case you are not aware, the term QR Code® is a registered trademark of   DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED within the U.S., Japan, Australia and Europe.

“We would appreciate your cooperation in making sure all future references of QR Code® within your [publication/website] include the registered trademark symbol ® after the term “QR Code” and the following text is placed somewhere on the same page as the term: QR Code is a registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED.”

Although the code itself is still open source, and the terminology has been around for years without this issue cropping up, Denso Wave has every right to protect its branding and intellectual property.

We’re not sure how far Denso Wave would take this legally.  But, to err on the safe side direct mailers who use these codes to link to online content may wish to consider: (1) Honor Denso Wave’s request and use the ® symbol if specifically using the term QR Code; (2) Use terminology such as “Scan this code with your mobile device . . . “; or (3) Simply call it a 2D Code.

As an aside, the USPS is considering a new QR Code® promotion this Summer.  This is in response to the successful program last year where they reduced postage costs by 3% for mailers who included a 2D code on their mail piece.  We are, at this writing, unaware as to the schedule or scope of the new promotion.  We will post details on this blog as we receive them.

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One Comment

  1. JBS Printing
    February 11, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Enjoyed the article.

    Being a small business owner I’m always looking for news, helpful blogs, and articles about running and marketing a small business.

    Reading about other businesses and what they are doing is always helpful.

    Keep up the good work

    JBS Printing, LLC
    1401 Hanover Street
    Hanover, MA 02339

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