QR Code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) first designed for the automotive industry. More recently, the system has become popular outside the industry due to its fast readability and large storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. The code consists of black modules (square dots) arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be made up of four standardized kinds (“modes”) of data (numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, Kanji), or through supported extensions, virtually any kind of data.
Who invented QR Codes?
Invented in Japan by the Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994 to track vehicles during the manufacturing process, the QR Code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes. It was designed to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.
Unlike the old bar code that was designed to be mechanically scanned by a narrow beam of light, the QR code is detected as a 2-dimensional digital image by a semiconductor image sensor and is then digitally analyzed by a programmed processor. The processor locates the three distinctive squares at the corners of the image, and normalizes image size, orientation, and angle of viewing. The small dots are then converted to binary numbers and validity checked with an error-correcting code.
The use of QR Codes is free of any license. The QR Code is clearly defined and published as an ISO standard.
Denso Wave owns the patent rights on QR Codes, but has chosen not to exercise them. In the USA, the granted QR Code patent is US 5726435, and in Japan JP 2938338. The European Patent Office granted patent “EPO 0672994”. to Denso Wave, which was then validated into French, British and German patents, all of which are still in force as of November 2011.
The word QR Code itself is a registered trademark of Denso Wave Incorporated.In UK, the trademark is registered as E921775, the word “QR Code”, with a filing date of 03/09/1998. The UK version of the trademark is based on the Kabushiki Kaisha Denso (DENSO CORPORATION) trademark, filed as Trademark 000921775, the word “QR Code”, on 03/09/1998 and registered on 6/12/1999 with the European Union OHIM (Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market). The US Trademark for the word “QR Code” is Trademark 2435991 and was filed on 29/09/1998 with an amended registration date of 13/03/2001, assigned to Denso Corporation.
The word QR CODE is a separate trademark assigned to King Estate Winery Limited, US trademark 85293411.
Micro QR Code is a smaller version of the QR Code standard for applications with less ability to handle large scans. There are different forms of Micro QR Codes as well. The highest of these can hold 35 numeric characters.
Standard QR Code is the QR code standard for applications that possess the ability to handle large scans. A standard QR Code can contain up to 7,089 characters, though not all QR readers can accept that much data.
Custom or artistic QR codes are standard QR codes that have been modified for aesthetic purposes or to make it easier for people to recognize a brand. Many companies use different design techniques to help their code stand out among the crowd. These techniques include: adding color, shapes and various techniques such as round or pointed edges.
Malicious QR Codes combined with a permissive reader can put a computer’s contents and user’s privacy at risk. This practice is known as “attagging”, a portmanteau of “attack tagging.” They are easily created and may be affixed over legitimate QR Codes. On a smartphone, the reader’s many permissions may allow use of the camera, full internet access, read/write contact data, GPS, read browser history, read/write local storage, and global system changes.