World Intellectual Property Organization

Tribeka - A UK SME with a groundbreaking digital software licensing system prospers thanks to its IP


Location: United Kingdom
Business sector: Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)
Activities: Licensing, manufacturing and retailing of software
Number of employees: 42
Annual turnover: Euro 1m (2006 estimate)

A Revolutionary Business Model for Software Logistics

Tribeka Ltd. is revolutionizing the way people buy and sell software. The company created the SoftWide® technology which allows customers to walk into a store, choose from almost any software product ever created, and walk away instantly with a secure software copy, identical to the traditionally distributed version.

Tribeka has agreements with more than 200 brand name software publishers including ABBYY, Atari, BBC, Britannica, Corel, Dorling Kindersley, Eidos, IRIS, Lego, McAfee, Sage, Ubisoft, Ulead, Webroot and Xara to offer an ever-growing catalogue of 2,000 titles, available for PC, Macintosh, Phone, Microsoft's Pocket PC and Palm's Pilot. As soon as a customer makes a purchase in one of Tribeka’s retail outlets, the SoftWide® system automatically obtains authorization from Tribeka’s remote control center via secured license release and starts in-site replication of the product. The software is pressed onto disc and the final package can even be personalized for gifts. The entire process, including the printing of a user manual and color inlay, all to factory quality, is completed within minutes.

Tribeka's SoftWide® system is revolutionary because it is "virtual": it operates by taking advantage of its digital licensing agreements with software vendors to manufacture their software to factory standards on-demand and on-site. This allows SoftWide® to eliminate stock and its associated problems (inventory, out-of-stock situations, unsold or obsolete products) and take full advantage of display space, whilst minimizing physical distribution costs and the potential for technical piracy or physical theft. By exploiting these advantages to the full, the system allows retailer, publisher and customer to reap the financial benefits.

Without Patents and other IP protections, we would not have been able to make SoftWide® a reality.

In its pursuit to create and maintain its competitiveness in the marketplace, Tribeka fully appreciates the paramount role played by IP policy. Tribeka has presently secured copyright license agreements with over 200 leading software publishers for the digital rights management of their retail products. The company has 3 patents pending in 21 European countries, mirrored by 5 equivalent patents pending in the United States pertaining to the secure production, audited manufacture, shrinkage protection, ordering facility and distribution of digitized information on-demand and at point of sale. The company also currently holds 3 registered trademarks in the United Kingdom. Tribeka has a profound ongoing commitment to developing, deploying and managing IP stratagems and nurturing tangible as well as intangible proprietary assets so as to integrate them in its overall business endeavors and strategy.

Tribeka states: Protecting our IP early in the process gave our investors a higher level of confidence in our ability to monetize on SoftWide®, and helped us to draw in high-level partners to offer products for PCs, Pocket PCs, and phones. Their investment enabled us to hire the staff necessary to finish developing our technology and bring this innovation to market. By protecting our IP, we gave investors the confidence they needed to our technology and our company.

Our IP is now proving invaluable for us as we start to license SoftWide® to retailers worldwide: it will ensure that both they and Tribeka are able to profit from SoftWide as it becomes a disruptive technology.

The costs of patenting our innovations were not too large, especially given the collateral benefits we realized because of our patents (investor and partner confidence, increased staff, and eventual licensing revenue). In our case, the total patent costs have been about 2.5% of R&D costs to date.”

For additional information: Tribeka website,,

Explore WIPO