New guide to help businesses fight fakes

  • 9 March 2001

ICC Commercial Crime Services (CCS) has published a new anti-counterfeiting guide. Aimed at brand owners, the book gives an overview of the technologies available to protect products from fraudulent copying.

The new publication, Anti-Counterfeiting Technology Guide, comes at a time when the business of counterfeiting is booming. Larger incentives and easier access to sophisticated technologies are encouraging criminals to produce increasingly successful fakes.

According to CCS, businesses which take steps to protect their products against counterfeiting also reduce the risks of costly damage claims in product liability cases where they may need to prove that a product bearing their company’s trade mark is a fake.

Manufacturers have to be on the constant lookout for new ways to protect their products, but it can sometimes be difficult to choose the most effective method, the CCS book warns.

“Brand owners are often unaware of how best to protect their particular goods against counterfeiting,” said Peter Lowe, Assistant Director of the CCS Counterfeiting Intelligence Bureau (CIB). “Our guide gives them the information they need to make their product as hard to copy as possible, whether it is a brand of whisky, an official document or a handbag design.”

The guide reviews the key fields of technologies used to fight fakes – security printing, holograms and Diffractive Optical Variable Image Devices (DOVIDS), security labelling, taggants, smart cards, biometrics, and digital watermarking for CDs.

The section on security labels advises readers on the various technologies used to ensure that anyone tampering with a product’s label will leave a trace.

“One way is to use a transfer resistant label which causes the word “VOID” to appear on the surface when it is removed,” explained Mr Lowe.

Biocoding is another technology profiled in the book. This new technology involves the addition to a product of a chemical marker carrying coded information.

“For example, a whiskey could contain unique details determining its own origin and batch with a combination of chemicals that is almost impossible to copy,” explained Lowe. “Spot checks to determine the whiskey’s authenticity can be carried out easily with a biocode test kit using antibodies that react with certain marker chemicals to give a colour.”

The book explains how products can also be tagged by smell. An odour is incorporated into the packaging, or in the product itself, and its authenticity can be checked with a handheld “electronic nose”.

As well as revealing the latest anti-counterfeiting technologies, each section features a list of experts in the relevant specialized field, complementing the CIB Countertech Directory published earlier this year.

The publication also sets out how to devise an effective strategy to fight counterfeiting using real company case-studies as examples.

According to Mr Lowe, the Anti-Counterfeiting Technology Guide is the first of its kind in this field, giving specialist technological information in an easy-to-read style.

The guide will not only benefit businesses with new products, but also those whose products have changed, and all those who need to keep up to date with new counterfeiting techniques.

“Manufacturers can not afford to sit back and expect to avoid becoming victims of counterfeiting. Reading this book should be the first step for businesses building an effective barrier against counterfeiters.” said Mr Lowe.