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What is the Universal Product Code database?

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Quick Answer

The Universal Product Code, or UPC, database is an Internet site that compiles and organizes barcode information, including codes in the UPC system, the EAN system and the Bookland system. The database supplies statistics such as price, manufacturer, quantity and product name. Whenever possible, the site also provides images of items, ratings and product aliases. The site is easily searchable and also allows any Internet user to add to the barcode inventory.

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Full Answer

In reality, there is not just one "official" UPC database. Several one- or two-person-run Internet sites exist and are funded strictly by donations. Created as projects by individuals who recognized a need for the organization of this data, the sites allow users to search for and add items at no cost. The number of UPC and EAN codes available increases daily as of 2015, with literally millions of codes available on each of the Internet sites.

Barcode formats include the international format, EAN, managed by the International Article Numbering Association in Brussels, and the UPC format managed by the Uniform Code Council in New Jersey. The codes are primarily used for scanning items at points of sale. United States retailers receive a unique barcode from GS1 US, called a GS1 Company Prefix, which they then use to create UPCs. Because each company prefix is different, UPC and EAN barcodes uniquely identify retailers and products quickly and easily, making these searchable databases useful for multiple consumer and business applications.

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