Anti-Counterfeit Packaging – A Primer

While there are many types of security features used in product packaging, the ‘big three’ categories are usually defined as Overt, Covert and Forensic.

  • Overt – This type of security contains a visible feature, enabling packaging to be validated quickly and easily through visual inspection.  They are best used where the general public is a part of your policing in the field. These features are usually more readily available and therefore less secure, and include holograms, color shift inks, security fibers, floating images/ patterns, etc.
  • Covert – This type of security feature is typically placed in such a way as to be invisible to the naked eye.  The feature is revealed with certain tools or calibrated readers that cause special inks or graphics to react. Special effect inks, with Ultraviolet (UV) and Infrared (IR) phosphors dispersed, are popular methods used in currency and secure documents, but also include watermarks, time and temperature-sensitive inks, chemically reactive inks, etc.
  • Forensic – Forensic refers to scientific method of collecting and analyzing information.  These types of security features generally require a sample to be taken to a laboratory for a full analysis. Although highly secure, there are often thought to be very expensive to integrate (though this is not the case with the DNA Matrix™ security mark). Other examples include chemical or ionic taggants, nanoparticles, etc.

Packaging is the technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution, sale and end-use. In the case of pharmaceuticals, packaging conveys valuable information and now, pedigree of the product. High prices make the pharma market most vulnerable to counterfeiting and product piracy, because the product manufacturing is a high-volume, and high-profit business.  Pharmaceutical companies typically invest heavily in R&D to develop new products, but the production of counterfeit drugs need not require large infrastructure or facilities.

The most commonly counterfeited drug in the world is a ‘lifestyle drug’ called Viagra, but in developing countries, the most counterfeited medicines are those used to treat life-threatening conditions such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.  As one would expect, trade in these medicines is more prevalent in countries with weak drug regulation, fragmented supply chains and controls, scarcity or erratic supplies and unaffordable prices.

In the US, the Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA) and the subsequent Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCQA) have added Track and Trace functionality to the pharmaceutical packaging process, in the form of 2D matrix barcodes, to ensure that unique product identifiers are placed on each and every drug package.  This form of security packaging provides advantages to manufacturers that are already placing batch/ date codes on their products, in that they can embed security features, such as the DNA Matrix™, into the same codes, at the same time and at very little cost.

With increasing sophistication, counterfeiters continue to advance and profit at the cost of public safety and company revenues. But, by implementing new packaging security measures, affordable and reliable brand protection is now closer than you think.

Mike Hayes is the Managing Director of DNA Technologies.  He has been helping customers to combat counterfeiting in print applications for over 10 years.

Want to learn more about packaging security and anti-counterfeiting measures? Drop us a line!

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Secure Inkjet Printing Process to Combat Product Counterfeiting, Pirating, and Diversion

Inkjet printing is a growing force in the commercial printing world today. Higher quality reproduction, short run flexibility and customization are making inkjet technology attractive to all forms of business, including industrial printing and packaging providers.

With the integration of advanced security features, inkjet has a new market in which to compete – anti-counterfeiting and brand protection. Many industries that employ variable data printing (pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, food, industrial manufacturers, packagers and labeling) are now able to integrate advanced security features into existing processes.

As the market for variable data printing expands, there is an opportunity to gain ‘first mover advantage’ with a unique and robust product authentication solution, by combining the secure covert features of PhotoSecureSmartDye® and DNA Matrix™taggants with variable data printing to produce secure customized codes, serial numbers, barcodes, or integrated graphics.

DNA Technologies provides licenses and taggants tested in inks and in on substrates for the support and integration into a system for product authentication, including 2D Matrix barcode/security mark integration.

Market Facts
Counterfeiting and Brand Identity theft is accelerating with digital copying and printing, and with the outsourced remote manufacturing of highly desirable brand name products. Global products depend on trust and recognition, as the trade name and logo become just as important as the quality of the goods. There are larger incentives to cheat, and easy access to sophisticated technologies is encouraging criminals to produce increasingly successful fakes.

Consider these facts:

  • PIRA International estimates that product counterfeiting represents 5 – 8% of world trade
  • The World Health Organization estimates that 5 – 7% of the world’s medicines are fake
  • Losses to US businesses from the counterfeiting of trademarked consumer products is estimated at $200 billion a year (Dept of Commerce)

Most industries are at risk. The new breed of forgers are attracted by technological advances that make them more difficult to catch than the old. Generally, the counterfeiters have no previous criminal record, and the equipment they use is inexpensive and totally legitimate. HP estimates that they have over 200 million inkjet printers installed worldwide. How do you determine a legitimate print job from a fake with that kind of access to technology?

Think about something as ubiquitous as a barcode label. How difficult is it to reproduce?

The advancement of technology and its use by counterfeiters has allowed better copies to be made of both the actual product and the packaging. Modern computers, scanners and color printers have not only made it easier to mimic packaging and documentation, but have also reduced the skill level required to produce passable copies. Technology has also meant that better copies can be made, that are harder to detect and which are easier to slip into the ordinary trade channels used by legitimate commerce. Sometimes counterfeits are mixed with genuine goods, making it difficult to detect the fakes.

Solving Brand Owners’ Problems
Companies that find themselves competing with counterfeiters suffer a direct loss in sales. Some markets are even dominated by counterfeiters, creating barriers of entry for the producers of the genuine product. Trade names and product quality reputations are damaged. Products are diverted to the wrong market and sold at uncontrolled or sometimes illegal prices.

But there is a growing change in attitude towards supply chain integrity – counterfeiting is no longer an accepted cost of doing business. Companies aren’t out to just limit gray market diversion or counterfeiting, they’re out to recover revenues.

Consumers, who are deceived into believing that they bought a genuine article when it was in fact a fake, blame the manufacturer of the genuine product when it fails, creating a loss of goodwill.

By integrating product authentication features into existing inkjet technology, and developing electronic bar code readers sensitive to forensic covert taggants, we provide your customers with protection against counterfeiting and product diversion – a level of security that will allow Brand Owners to recover revenues and market share, track distribution on an ongoing basis to control product piracy, preserve the integrity of their products in the marketplace and increase consumer confidence in their brands.

Key Features

  • High security – extraction and matching of DNA sequence code provides irrefutable proof/ positive identification
  • Simple, yet complex product authentication solution – easy to use, but with inherent complexity to prevent duplication
  • Wide variety of applications – can be applied to virtually any tangible surface
  • Multi level encryption provides moving target for counterfeiters
  • Cost-effective solution – low cost per mark, with no major re-tooling or process re-design

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