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How can you prove your digital file existed at a particular date?

July 29, 2020

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has introduced a new service for creating a “digital fingerprint” of digital files, along with a timestamp. This service, WIPO PROOF, can therefore be used to provide evidence that a given file existed at a certain date.

WIPO PROOF can be used for any type of digital file in a number of scenarios. Besides the more obvious uses in relation to copyright protection of artistic works, the timestamp could also for instance be used to establish that certain technical information was already in a party’s possession prior to signing a non-disclosure agreement.

Furthermore, any trade secrets or know-how can be timestamped to help establish prior use in the event that a pertinent registered IP right, such as a patent, is subsequently filed by a third party.

The cost of a WIPO PROOF token for a single file is 20 Swiss francs, with discounts available for multiple files. When using the service, only the “digital fingerprint” (hashed version of the original file) and the timestamp are sent to WIPO, rather than the original file, ensuring the security of confidential information.

This new WIPO PROOF service could be a powerful tool for creative businesses in a world which is progressing ever more rapidly towards digital technologies.