WIPO Online System – WIPO Proof

O. Boncea, on behalf of the Online Communications Committee

WIPO has launched a new online service called WIPO PROOF, that produces tamper-proof evidence which can be used to prove that a digital file existed at a specific point in time. Proving when a digital content was created by, or was available to a user is, in most of the cases, cumbersome. In this regard, WIPO PROOF provides an easy to use and trusted service that  associates to any digital file a WIPO PROOF token – a date and time-stamped digital fingerprint of said file, which can be used as evidence, for example in the context of legal dispute.

Here are the answers to some relevant questions related to the service (for more information visit https://wipoproof.wipo.int/wdts):

How does WIPO PROOF work?

1) A first use of the service is to create a WIPO PROOF token with a specific date and time stamp, to certify that a certain file (e.g. test.docx) was existing and in the possession of the user at that specific date and time.

Initially, the user has to connect to the WIPO PROOF web application by using any modern browser, via the url: wipoproof.wipo.int. In order to use the service, the user needs to have a WIPO account or otherwise create a new one. After logging in, the user is prompted to select the file to be timestamped. After selecting the file test.docx, the user is guided to the payment module and finally the token is generated. 

When a WIPO PROOF token is generated, the user receives an online acknowledgement that the token has been created and a confirmation email, including a link to download the token. The date and time associated to the file represent the moment when the user requests the token. Tokens cannot be back-dated.

2) A second use of the WIPO PROOF service is to verify the validity of a token, that is to verify the existence of the digital file test.docx at a specific point in time, based on the associated token. For this part of the service, the original file test.docx and the WIPO PROOF token generated therefor must be available. 

It is important to know that the file (in our case test.docx) is never uploaded to WIPO PROOF. The user retains full possession of the digital file (which is good for confidentiality) but also is the only one who controls whether the file remains available for a future verification process (which is a responsibility on the user). Any alteration to the original file, e.g. a slight format change, will invalidate the token verification process. Thus, it is essential that the original file together with the original token are kept safe, without any alteration.

Professional users must therefore establish procedures to safeguard these rights for future need. A simple recommendation of the service provider is to download the token form the link received with the confirmation email and to store the email, token and original digital file together in the same folder (with suitable backup), for easy retrieval. It is also recommended that each element is appropriately named, in order to easily identify them as a package. Case management/document management. 

With one token, digital evidence in 10 different languages may be obtained. Both the online verification pages (free) and the premium certificates are available in 10 different languages. For those conducting business internationally, such a benefit may be essential in the case of cross-border disputes.

What can WIPO PROOF safeguard?

Any digital file may be provided with a trusted WIPO PROOF token, for example creative works and designs, trade secrets and know-how, a collection of research data and results, lab notes, version history of agreements or contracts and many more. 

What are the benefits of the service?

Getting verifiable, trusted and indefinitely valid evidence that an intellectual asset or other digital assets existed at a specific point in time. Even more, countries have started to legally recognize and accept certified digital evidence as an alternative to the classic notary service.

What are the costs for using the service?

The cost of one WIPO PROOF token with indefinite validity and 5 years of token storage on WIPO servers (it may be that after 5 years, a further fee for storage is needed to be paid) is 20CHF, including taxes and fees. Other options exist, e.g. buying a bundle of 10 tokens for a discounted price or asking for a premium certificate. The online verification of a WIPO PROOF token is free of charge.