Creation of a relict population of unregulated barcodes



    Please click the [ Mark Complete ] button at the bottom of this page when you’ve achieved the following goals:

  • Explain how millions of former GS1 barcodes now remain available, legitimate and unregulated by GS1 despite their attempts to secure control of them.
  • Explain why, although GS1 has attempted to control/regulate these barcodes, GS1 has never brought legal action against those companies (such as IBN) that trade in these barcodes.
Millions of surplus legitimate barcodes:

As a not-for-profit organisation, UCC (GS1-US) initially allocated barcode numbers in batches of 100 000, regardless of the user requirement i.e. a user wanting only 20 barcodes obtained 100 000.

The rationale was that the available barcode number pool was so great that they would never be fully utilised.

This resulted in millions of surplus barcode numbers owned by companies in the USA.

At that historical point, UCC members could use company prefixes in issued barcodes and were entitled to a range of benefits.

Excerpt from a new-member letter:

A failed attempt to regain control:

In 2002 the UCC (GS1-US) tightened the membership agreements with restrictive requirements that included annual renewal fees and contractual agreements on barcode prefixes.

This resulted in dissension from members, who brought a class action against the UCC and won.

The UCC settled out of court in August 2002.
In the settlement the UCC agreed, among other concessions that these members would have perpetual membership without fees, they could retain their company prefixes, and that members joining before August 2002 could not be charged any additional fees.

i.e. they not only failed to regain control but due to valid legal threats against them, they backed off and lost ground in confirming that they could not legally take control.

Excerpt from a Class Action Notice to a UCC/GS1 member:

Millions of barcodes ‘in the wind’:

By this point, the UCC had already issued millions of barcodes, and the class action effectively resulted in millions of barcodes remaining globally unregulated and legally traded beyond GS1 control.

For discussion purposes, we can refer to these as relict barcodes:

Wikipedia: “A relict (or relic) plant or animal is a taxon that persists as a remnant of what was once a diverse and widespread population. Relictualism occurs when a widespread habitat or range changes and a small area becomes cut off from the whole.”

These barcodes can still be legally traded without the permission or interference of GS1:

Today there are still multiple points of friction between the free trade of these relict barcodes and GS1’s imperative to monopolise such trade.

If the provision of relict barcodes was in contravention of any laws, GS1 and affiliates would have a legal recourse to prevent such barcodes from being sold and would undoubtedly pursue legal action.

But no such legal recourse has been taken against any of the organisations and companies who trade in relict barcodes.
Why not?
Because such legal recourse is simply not available to GS1.
i.e. Members of the International Barcodes Network are legitimate relict barcode traders.