Tracermarks: A Proposed Information Intervention

39 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2015 Last revised: 6 Jan 2016

See all articles by Margaret Chon

Margaret Chon

Seattle University School of Law

Date Written: November 2, 2015


We live in a world of information. But paradoxically, we simultaneously suffer from a scarcity of “smart” information: information that is traceable and therefore reliable, trust-worthy, and ultimately verifiable. Combining the insights of global governance theory with behavioral economics, this Article approaches this challenge from a knowledge governance framework, sets forth various reasons for this unnecessary deficit and proposes an intervention to address it — tracermarks. Envisioned as a hybrid of trademarks and certification marks, tracermarks would encourage various stakeholders to disclose, disseminate and ultimately make decisions about previously hidden qualities of specific goods and services throughout global value networks. Digital networks have tremendous potential to combine with other kinds of technologies (e.g., QR or UPC codes, smart phone apps, and other intermediaries and platforms), and thus to contribute to the production and distribution of smart information about specific goods and services. Improving the capacity for meaningful consumer and producer choices through smart information would also increase net social welfare through innovation, which is a primary public policy goal of intellectual property.

Keywords: behavioral economics, certification, certification marks, fair trade, geographical indications, global governance, intellectual property, provenance, supply chains, traceability, trade, trademarks, transaction cost economics

Suggested Citation

Chon, Margaret, Tracermarks: A Proposed Information Intervention (November 2, 2015). Houston Law Review, Vol. 53:2, 2015; Seattle University School of Law Research Paper No. 16-01. Available at SSRN:

Margaret Chon (Contact Author)

Seattle University School of Law ( email )

901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall
P.O. Box 222000
Seattle, WA n/a 98122-1090
United States

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