by Jeff Hayzlett
Counterfeiting and piracy represent a $700 billion global problem that touches virtually every industry and market. Among such diverse items as luxury goods, tickets, pharmaceuticals, apparel, cosmetics, replacement automotive parts, currency, toothpaste, premium wines, identification documents and labels, knock-offs are harder than ever to distinguish from the real things.
For companies that want to take the offensive in fighting counterfeiters and protecting their brands and customers, printers can serve as one of the first lines of defense. Digital printing technologies offer simple, effective methods for printers to help their customers address the threat of counterfeiting.
Choosing the Solution
A range of solutions allows printers to address all levels of security. New technologies include invisible markers embedded during the manufacturing or printing process that can be instantly and reliably authenticated in the field in a way that no counterfeiter can bypass.
New technologies include invisible markers embedded during the manufacturing or printing process that can be instantly and reliably authenticated in the field in a way that no counterfeiter can bypass.
For gift certificates and other documents with monetary value, variable data watermarks offer basic protections against fraud. Using color or black and white digital printing systems, this process embeds the recipient’s name and the dollar amount into the front and back sides of the document. The watermark prevents counterfeiting and alteration and provides a means of authenticating the document.
Static or variable data microprinting, also available with color or black and white digital printing systems, places hidden features into a document to counter fraud. Simple devices such as a magnifying glass or eye loupe can be used to detect microprinted data, which otherwise is difficult to see, scan and copy.
For printers that need to provide a higher level of security, Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) printing utilizes black and white digital production systems to place into a check hidden features that can only be read by complex devices. With MICR printing, iron oxide makes toner or ink ferro-magnetic. MICR printing reduces fraud via check copying and allows fast, reliable check sorting.
Maximizing Counterfeit Protection
At the highest level of security is the use of marker materials deployed into digital printing applications. This forensically invisible authentication technology deploys a combination of proprietary markers and handheld readers, which allow customers to easily validate the authenticity of an item in the field or in distribution channels.
Forensically invisible authentication technology deploys a combination of proprietary markers and handheld readers
The marker materials can be mixed with inks, toners, varnishes, and other items for analog and digital printing, as well as paper pulp, plastics, powders, pigments, liquids and textiles. Digital printing methods of deployment include thermal, inkjet and electrophotographic. Printers and brand owners appreciate this approach because it has no effect on the characteristics of the end products or packaging and allows maximum flexibility for implementation across product lines.
Users license the technology and have secure control of the markers, the readers and associated software. This type of system prevents counterfeiters from duplicating the products or their packaging and includes built-in safeguards to prevent reverse engineering.
Counterfeit products are creeping onto store shelves at an alarming rate, posing a serious threat to consumer health and global business. With access to a variety of anti-counterfeiting solutions, printers are well positioned to play a key role in a company’s proactive brand defense strategy and help customers protect their brand image.