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Making Everlasting Memories Brushes Off Concerns About QR Code Patent

A few weeks ago we posted an article that talked about a patent help by Making Everlasting Memories that protects the concept of using QR code technology to send a user from a concrete object to a memorial webpage. There was a lot of concern generated through comments made to the article (unfortunately those comments were not able to be copied over to our new site), and most of the concern was surrounding the uncertainty of how forceful would MEM be at protecting their patent. There was also great concern about the relationship between MEM and SCI. Making Everlasting Memories is listed on a number of online documentation as a subsidiary of SCI, and (MEM) has just entered into a partnership with Bass-Mollett, which has been a large and trusted supplier to many independent funeral homes across the country, and this has many independent firms rethinking their relationship with Bass-Mollet.

I was emailed Thursday morning by Thomas Parmalee, executive director, of Funeral Service Insider letting me know that they had mentioned ConnectingDirectors.com in an article they published after reaching out to Making Everlasting Memories to find out exactly what their patent covered.

Below are some of the highlights.

When asked about the OR code patent G. Scott Mindrum, president and CEO of Making Everlasting Memories,says QR codes are just one area his company focuses on. “Yes, we have a patent, but we’ve never had to do anything other than discuss what we can do to help funeral homes serve more families,” he says.

Mindrum adds that his company is “not an aggressive group” but it is proud of the solutions it offers funeral homes. “We are not squatting on technology – we are actively developing technology, and we’d like to be able to work with people.” He adds, “We are not running around chasing people.”

Specific to the patent itself and what it covers Mindrum explained, what we have is a patent on the concept of using QR technology to take a person from a concrete object – that could be a headstone or a printed object – from there to an Internet website.” He adds, “There are other aspects of the patent, but that’s the part getting people’s attention.” The patent specifically applies to the death-care profession, he says.

Parmalee stats in the article that Mindrum also clarified confusion about the ownership of his company. Mindrum says he founded the company by himself in 1995, and is the largest shareholder, but he does admit to entering into a joint venture/partnership with SCI a long time ago. Mindrum doesn’t go into details about the partnership, but does say he is not exclusive to any company and that SCI is a large customer but does not have any involvement in the day-to-day operations of MEM.

I personally feel there is more to the story and the partnership with SCI. MEM would not be listed as a subsidiary of Service Corp International if they were just a large supplier to the company. It does sound like MEM/SCI are going to do whatever they have to do to protect their patent, but it seems they rather try to “work with people” then get legal parties involved. I have a feeling “working with people” will involve large royalties or licensing fees. Bummer for companies hoping to move forward with QR technology in the funeral profession, looks like MEM has a strong hold on at least directing the QR code to a memorial page.

What are your thoughts?

If you would like to read the article from Funeral Service Insider in its entirety, please visit: http://www.funeralserviceinsider.com 


Thank you to Thomas Parmalee for mentioning ConnectingDirectors.com in his original article and for allowing us to use portions of the piece for this post.

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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  • fluidpusher

    I was told by a funeral service legal professional that the patent covered the use of QR codes on a cemetery memorial that sent the user to a LifeStory webpage owned by MeM.   That’s it.  It does not prevent a funeral home from using a QR code in an obituary or on printed stationery items, if that QR code sends the user to that funeral home’s website, such as the deceased’s obituary/tribute page.

    I don’t use Bass Mollett products, and now most likely never will.

    • Ryan

       When did MeM purchase the rights from Ishinokoe Tombstones Japan who have been using the QR code on tombstones since 2008, or did they just reinvent it? before 2008?

      • Tigerjas

         Ishinokoe Tombstones Japanwere the first company in the world to use the QR code on tombstones long before MEM jumped on the bandwagon. Actually the QR CODE technology was invented in Japan earlier than 2008.

  • Susan purdue

    Use spell check and quit publishing trash and hearsay.

    • ryanthogmartin

      I’m sorry Susan, but spell-check is enabled and the article is comprised of quotes from MeM president Scott Mindrum, so I am not sure what you mean by hearsay?

    • FuneralGirl1

      Susan, Ryan’s article is not hearsay. Do you work for MEM? I mean SCI ?

  • Fdfh

    I agree with “fluidpusher”, I certainly will not ever buy from Bass-Mollett again! It’s amazing to me that a company who is made up of almost all independent funeral homes would turn around and team with their biggest competitor. Sounds like a huge “new owner and inexperience” problem….

  • Michael Hays

    Ryan,

    Your article is newsworthy and it was completely fair–until you jumped into the dark pool of speculation.  “I have a feeling ‘working with people’ will involve large royalties or licensing fees,” is not a responsible comment.  When you have proofs of royalties and licensing fees being assessed, then your commentary will carry much more weight.  Your “feelings” are valid, but your commentary is slanted. Part of the problem in America today is that too many “news outlets,” including the rash of internet blogs out there, are posting editorials based on pure speculation and bias.  Look around this very web page at the companies that are advertising with you, supporting your efforts.  How many of them are working with SCI?

    Furthermore, you pull Bass-Mollet into the mix, a company that has historically provided beautiful products to “willing” customers, and you seem to imply that these three companies are somehow “co-conspirators” in a negative strategy aimed at independents.  That inference is disappointing coming from you.

    I have deep respect and broad appreciation for what you’ve accomplished so far with Connecting Directors.  You deserve congratulations, accalades and the gratitude of your subscribers for your work.  I also know some of the good people at MeM and I know that you can rely upon what they tell you.  SCI neither has control of MeM, nor do they own the patent.  Thomas Parmalee’s article is much more fair.  He quotes Attorney Poul Lemasters who basically says, “If you were awarded an U.S. Patent, you’d seek to protect it; wouldn’t you?”

    The fact is that MeM does a beautiful job helping funeral homes and cemeteries tell the Life Stories of the loved ones of the families they serve.  As a funeral director and as someone who has worked energetically and passionately to help both corporate-owned and independent firms for 25 years, I must say that I believe that “storytelling” is the future of our profession.

    It’s time we work together in this industry; there are too many challenges that pose threats to our remaining vital, relevant and profitable in the future.  Scott Mindrum may have found some “seed money” from SCI to start a good work 22 years ago; so what?  If independents don’t respond to the winds of challenges blowing against the “traditional model” of funeral service–starting today–they soon may be looking for “who has the money to acquire my business.”  I’ll bet they will be open to conversations with SCI and other consolidators at that point.

    Respectfully,

    Mike

  • http://www.daletime.com/ Dale Clock

    It always amazes me how small minded some funeral directors
    can be. Every time SCI is mentioned as a partner or major customer or got a
    discount or their stock price changes the comments from the funeral director
    peanut gallery start to fly. “I’ll never buy from them again because they sell
    to SCI”, “SCI is just terrible to work for” “SCI is going to put the little
    guys out of business” and on and on.

     

    What a bunch of hooey. SCI is not the evil empire. They own
    a bunch of funeral homes and cemeteries. They manage them like any big
    corporation manages the companies that they own. They aren’t perfect and they
    make mistakes and sometimes their employees aren’t so good. But they also do a
    lot of good work and have a lot of good employees, otherwise they would have
    been out of business long ago. They try to get the best deals that they can
    from their suppliers (just like every other funeral home) and they also have been
    a driving force in change in the funeral industry. They have great training
    programs and understand that it’s important to watch the bottom line.

     

    Instead of whining about SCI, funeral directors should try
    and learn what SCI is doing right and implement to good things they are doing

     

    MEM has been in existence since 1995. That’s forever ago in the
    computer business. I used MEM products for a period of time (both video and
    print). I am an independent funeral home owner and have no ties to SCI. The MEM
    products were great. Easy to use, ahead of their time, and fairly priced. I
    only stopped using them because I joined a group that was doing more along the
    same lines that MEM was doing and I wanted to move into the future even faster
    than MEM was moving at the time. If MEM has a legitimate patent on QR codes and
    can use it to their advantage, more power to them. That’s why we have patents,
    so those that create things get their just rewards for their inventions.

     

    So quit your bellyachen. Investigate all the products out
    there. See which ones work best for you and give you the best return on your
    investment. Learn from everyone that you can. Do you really think that you not
    buying 50 register books from some company is really going to make a ripple in
    the water?? Come on!! Go back and take care of your families and do something
    that makes a difference in the world. Fighting an imaginary Darth Vader is a
    waste of time.

     

    Dale Clock

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  • Buy American Made

    Won’t use Bass-Mollett?  Why?  Business is business, we sell, and hopefully, others buy.  That’s the way it works…To say, “if B-M sells to SCI we won’t ever buy from them” is simply rediculous!  It’s like saying, “the deseased’s brother’s family used an SCI run funeral home, so we won’t touch, nor will we bury him, here at XYZ Funeral Home”  Really?  Wouldn’t you?  Nonsense!  Buy product for it’s quality and ability to service your families…Period!

  • InformedFuneralDirector

    Bass-Mollett just doesn’t get it! They are still pushing MEM. I think they have completely forgotten that 98% of their customers are independent funeral homes. Then they turn around and team with MEM / SCI?

  • Guest01

    Does anyone know of the patent number they are referring to?

  • qrcodesareafad

    Having several patent attorneys look at their patent makes it very obvious that it doesn’t hold water.

    First of all, they don’t own the rights to use the QR codes. They are considered in the public domain. Not to mention the actual owner of the QR code is Denso Wave, who has made their patent an open license for others to use. So, MEM claiming they own the right to patent the use of a QR code is like saying that they didn’t invent the jump rope, but they have patented the right to use one in a gym. Doesn’t make sense. Or for you lawyers out there, it doesn’t pass the “obviousness” test. Meaning: It’s obvious that people are going to use QR codes for applications of accessing information, including a url address (which is what their QR codes are doing), or other information. Simply placing one on concrete doesn’t make it a unique idea. It just makes the same idea, in a different spot. Not an invention… just an obvious use of an existing patent.