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Tread Lightly, Memorial QR Code Patent Controlled By SCI, Funeral Homes Face Liability Issue

We have seen the use of QR codes explode over the last year, we even have discussed the technology on ConnectingDirectors.com many times. In fact we have even encouraged the use of QR codes for marketing your funeral home.

Just how much has the use of QR codes grown; In a recent report from CNET states that 14 million Americans used their smartphones to scan QR codes in the month of June 2011 alone.

I have had many discussions with funeral director in the last few months who have asked about the benefits of using QR codes to link to memorial websites. I think that the technology could be more useful to funeral homes in other ways, but that is up to the director.

Well, I now have to firmly say NO, DO NOT use QR codes to link to online memorials; unless you want to fight with Making Everlasting Memories (MeM) or should I say SCI.

Last week I was going through some of the LinkedIn groups I am a member of. One particular post on the FrontRunner group caught my eye. The title of the post was, “How Many Funeral Homes are Using QR Codes? Heads up on potential liability issue surrounding this new technology – this is why you are not seeing it from FrontRunner!”.

As I read through the post the following was posted:

Kevin Montroy (owner of FrontRunner) heard back from the lawyer on a patent that exists. The patent is for using a scanning service (i.e. QR Codes) to take someone from a “Concrete memorial” (which is not clearly defined in the patent) to an online deceased tribute page. So, our lawyer suggested that using a QR code on a printed piece such as a newspaper or a memorial folder and directing them to an online memorial tribute page, could infringe the patent that a company called Making Everlasting Memories (MeM) has.

Frontrunner actually talked with the person who runs MeM who said of the patent, “he claims that he has the patent on something being scanned offline directing that person to an online memorial tribute page, which technically could stand in court if MeM ever decided pursue anything against funeral homes using QR Codes.”

Frontunner, later found that MeM was a subsidiary of Service Corporation International (SCI)

After digging a little deeper I confirmed, as well, that Making Everlasting Memories (MeM) is actually owner by Service Corporation International. (See image below from Wikipedia)

 

This in itself is a blow to independent funeral homes looking to use QR codes as a new way to link to online memorials, but there is more.

I received an anonymous email Friday that said SCI is now sending out“intimidating” letters to other industry suppliers about the use of QR Codes. They are claiming they have patents that will prevent other industry suppliers from using QR Codes on any memorial products.

You can scroll down at the bottom of this link to see the patent numbers: http://www.pitchengine.com/makingeverlastingmemoriesmem/patentedmobiletechnologyusesqrcodestoconnectfamilieswithlifestoriesanytimeanywhere

The email also pointed out that Bass-Mollet (one of the largest suppliers to independent funeral homes across North America) has partnered with MEM. This was confirmed through an ad on Page 27 of the recent Funeral Business Advisor. (See below)

 

So if MeM is owned by SCI, the independent funeral homes largest competitor, and Bass-Mollett just partnered with them, how will this partnership affect the relationship between Bass-Mollett and the independent funeral homes they have supplied for many years? Also knowing that MeM is owned by SCI, will this make you more curious in working with them?

I think the memorial QR code patent is going to have a bigger effect on other industry suppliers then it will on funeral homes. There are many other ways that QR codes can be used by funeral homes that will be much more valuable then linking QR codes to memorial pages.

Be watching for a free PDF White paper we are putting together discussing the most valuable ways funeral homes and incorporate QR codes into their traditional and social media marketing strategies.

Ryan Thogmartin

Ryan Thogmartin is founder and CEO of two innovative companies. Connecting Directors LLC (www.connectingdirectors.com) and Disrupt Media Group, LLC (www.disruptmg.com). ConnectingDirectors.com is the premier progressive online publication for funeral professionals. ConnectingDirectors.com is a thriving global publication with a reader base of over 15,000 of the most elite and forward-thinking professionals in the industry.

Disrupt Media Group, LLC is a social media marketing solutions firm. Disrupt MG focuses on proficiently assisting small businesses in creating engaging social media marketing strategies. Without a social media marketing strategy companies and brands are just aimlessly posting without any coherent direction. Social media marketing is more than just having a Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube page; businesses have to have a strategy to telling their story, one that opens the door and starts the conversation.

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  • Anonymous

    What happened to all the comments when the article was first posted a week ago?  Did all comments get purged with your new design?

    • http://joshmbrown.com/ Josh Brown

      Unfortunately, yes. We had no other option when switching our backend software.

  • Pingback: Making Everlasting Memories Brushes Off Concerns About QR Code Patent : ConnectingDirectors.com | Premier Progressive Funeral Industry Publication | Stay Current. Stay Informed. Stay Elite.

  • Pingback: You’ll Never Guess What List the Funeral Profession is Represented on Now : ConnectingDirectors.com | Premier Progressive Funeral Industry Publication | Stay Current. Stay Informed. Stay Elite.

  • Guest

    Interesting article.  My patent attorney says they do NOT have an enforceable patent. There patent requires an electronic device scanning an electronic signal coming from the memorial site (like a transmitter).  Sounds like they are just trying to bully any competition.  QR codes are not theirs. Smart phones are not theirs. Laser etching metal is not theirs. Memorial websites are not theirs. So what do they think is theirs? Mean-spirited bullying is what it is.  I have the resources, maybe I will start my own business with QR codes linking to memorial websites. You want an alternative to the bullies then post some responses to let me know how you feel. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Haynes/1754630408 James Haynes

      Guest is correct, and I have taken it to the next step and created my on website to link QR codes to memorials. It is bullying and I have run into some peers that also run memorial sites that are intimidated by the legal issues.

    • j ferguson

      I am starting my own memorial QR code company in Scotland Could we work together

      • Andre Desjardins

        i suggest you contact the folks at http://www.ezlivingintl.com , they have a very interesting programme and may do all the work for you

  • Pingback: Julie Samuels on Beating The Patent System | Defensive Patent License

  • Guest

    The article above is NOT accurate, in fact the company should be ashamed of manipulating/scarring buyers away from competitors, insinuating they have IP rights over QR codes linking to URL’s, “give me a break”. If they have enforceable protection on the type of material in which they place a QR tag or power over if a QR code links to Memorial site, then the US Patent system is absolutely broke and open to extreme manipulation. By the way I have examined the documents, their claim is manipulative and was meant to be manipulative by insinuating that a qr tag placed on a monument was the primary bases of their patent application (the guest below does a great job of better describing their patent application). This tactic of business is meant to bully and mislead. The article below is absolutely correct. Ryan (author of article) should own up to poor investigative reporting and own up to the mistake to maintain the reputation of his reporting accuracy. The fact that the article was accessible to funeral directors only spreads the manipulation. If the writer of this article does not post a new article immediately, 1) He is connected with the company, – or – 2) Has not established enough class to own up to mistakes.
    I am printing these comments and the article above to show record that the comments did exist in the event that author attempts to take the easy way out by deleting comments. This could be construed as class action slander. Bass-Mollett might want to digg a little deeper into the business practices of their new partner.

    MBA Robby

  • Digital Memorial

    This is a really interesting post thanks for sharing the information. For the last two years I’ve been working with memorial plaques which include QR codes amongst other linking devices. I was intrigued by the reference to the patent as previous searches around the subject (ie QR codes) threw up nothing. I found the patent referred to in the article, copied it and searched for the term QR code – nothing found. All very suspicious I agree with the general direction of other comments. All looks very odd.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brad.johnson.5074 Brad Johnson

    Interactive Headstones is a site that allows users to create memorials for free. Users are then emailed a png of the corresponding QR code so they can do with it what they like.

    http://www.interactiveheadstones.com

  • Andre Desjardins

    A Canadian company – Ez Living International has taken the QR code in a different direction , while they offer QR code plaques for headstones they also offer at a very reasonable price – Writing help for those times when the words just seem to fail . In addition they offer woldwide shipping included . the pricing is on their website which i found by accident . http://www.ezlivingintl.com