The Truth about Barcodes: Are Reseller Barcodes Okay?

History of barcodes

George Laurer invented the UPC Barcode in 1974, and the UPC barcode became part of the newly formed UCC organisation in the USA (UCC is now called GS1). UCC issued barcode prefixes for a one-off cost to manufacturers in the USA. The first barcode was scanned in a supermarket in 1974 (on a packet of Wrigley’s chewing gum). Eventually the barcode system took off (in supermarkets and other retail stores) as more and more manufacturers decided to use barcodes on their products. Soon almost all retail products in the USA (and eventually in retail stores around the world) were using barcodes. In Europe a

Reseller barcodes vs GS1 barcodes

The UCC (now called GS1) decided to change their licensing model for barcode prefixes, shifting from one-time fees to annual license fees. But this change didn’t sit well with some existing members who had already paid their one-time fees and didn’t want to be hit with additional annual charges.

To settle the dispute, the UCC Settlement Agreement was reached (on December 11, 2003). It stated that all UPC and EAN company prefixes issued before August 28, 2002, would remain the property of the original owners and wouldn’t be subject to the new licensing model. This meant a division among UCC members, with some owning their prefixes outright and others having licenses to use them.

It also meant that it was legal to sell UPC (and EAN-13) barcodes and prefixes that were issued by UCC prior to August 28, 2002. These barcodes are called reseller barcodes.

Are reseller barcodes safe to use?

Reseller barcodes are safe to use if they are subject to the UCC Settlement Agreement, and if they are issued by a genuine barcode seller that has a legal registered company.

The majority or physical and online retailers worldwide accept reseller barcodes, however some retailers have particular barcode requirements. Some require barcode verification, barcode registration, or a certificate of barcode authenticity (showing the chain of ownership).

There are many barcode resellers online, and it’s hard to tell which ones offer genuine unused UPC/EAN-13 barcodes that are legally allowed to be resold (under the UCC Settlement Agreement). Some sell made up or stolen barcode numbers. Some barcode seller sites sell barcodes that still belong to GS1 and are not legal for re-sale. The Barcode Sellers website lists some specific warnings about particular barcode sellers.

What is the best barcode reseller?

The best barcode reseller organization globally is The International Barcodes Network (IBN) because they provide barcode registration, verification, and GTIN certificates of authenticity. They do checks on their barcode numbers before they are issued to make sure that they are not being used illegally anywhere online (including on the Amazon websites). They also know the barcode market extremely well and have decades of experience – they provide detailed information about the barcode requirements of different retailers worldwide.

IBN have acquired barcodes issued before August 28, 2002, from the UCC. Now, these barcodes were no longer under UCC or GS1’s control. The IBN took legal ownership and offers them to customers for a one-time fee, without any pesky annual charges.

When you get barcodes from the International Barcodes Network and its authorized members around the world, barcode ownership is transferred to you through a GTIN Certificate of Authenticity. The Certificate is a document showing the journey of your barcode prefix from the original owner to the IBN and finally to you.