Where do UPC codes come from?
The industry response to this new requirement was a class action law suit. When the lawsuit was settled, the UCC had to refund all the dues it collected from firms that had joined the UCC prior to August 28, 2002. Any firm that purchased their numbers before this date legally owned all their bar code numbers and could do anything they wanted with them. Anyone purchasing their numbers from the UCC after this date is essentially renting their numbers. They must continue to pay their yearly dues or they will lose their UPC numbers. Eventually the UCC merged with its European equivalent and the new organization became GS1.
This class action lawsuit effectively created two different sources for UPC bar code numbers. Any firm that joined the UCC before the class action suit in 2002 can resell their bar code numbers. The only place that new numbers can be obtained is GS1. So a business can rent their UPC numbers from GS1.org or they can buy a permanent number assignment from one of the few companies (like MyBarCodeStore.com) that purchased their assignments prior to 2002.
Note that when you pay your fee to GS1 you are only renting those numbers for a year. At the end of that year GS1 will send you information about renewing your license to use those numbers. If you want to continue, you pay GS1 for another year. If you ignore their communications, they will send you letters from an attorney telling you they are repossessing your UPC codes. You must then remove those numbers from your packaging and your actual products places like Amazon!
Elfring Fonts Inc
2020 Dean St, Unit N
St. Charles, IL 60174
All UPC bar code numbers must be unique. If two different products shared the same number, then store computers would be unable to tell the difference between those two items. It would be similar to MasterCard or Visa issuing the same charge card number to two different people. Who gets the bill?
Thus, you can't make up your own UPC numbers. If everyone did this, bar code numbers would overlap at random and the entire process of using computers to look up prices and product descriptions would not work. Using the credit card analogy, making up your own bar code number would be the same as making up your own credit card number.
To keep these numbers separate, there must be a single central authority that manages the process of assigning unique numbers to each manufacturer. That central authority is now known as GS1.org. Yet if you google “buy UPC code” you will find many firms selling them. So why are there so many companies selling bar code numbers on the internet?
When UPC bar codes were first created in the U.S. an organization known as the Uniform Code Council was created to manage number assignments. Any company that wanted to use UPC codes had to pay a one time fee to join the Uniform Code Council (UCC) and in return they were given a block of 100,000 UPC numbers. As time went on it became obvious that the UCC would run out of numbers if they kept assigning a minimum block of 100,000 numbers to every new company. Most companies did not want or need that many UPC numbers. The UCC also needed a stable source of income to support their operations. One time fees did not supply that source of income.
The UCC decided to retroactively change the way they operated in 2002. They decided to require that all members (including those that joined before this date) pay a yearly fee to continue using the bar code numbers those firms had previously purchased. This did not site well with firms that had already paid for their UPC codes.