The 1-TAG technology from Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) offers brand goods manufacturers protection against product piracy and thus provides a solution for minimizing the resultant economic damage. For all end customers, this solution also offers a simple way of checking the authenticity of products using a smartphone.
For reliable protection against counterfeiting, the products are equipped with 1-TAG security labels. These comprise a pattern randomly generated from copper threads and an accompanying unique two-dimensional quick response code (QR code). The combination of these two elements on the product itself or on the packaging ensures the best possible protection against counterfeiting and creates a unique identity for each product, comparable to a human fingerprint. Free mobile software (app) specifically developed for this technology allows end users to check the authenticity of the labeled products quickly and easily using a smartphone. The check takes place directly on the user's phone without the need for a network connection. Consumers can download the relevant apps free of charge from the Apple Store and the Google Android Market. The solution is available now for manufacturers and offers a far higher level of security than popular hologram concepts, which can usually be copied by counterfeiters in just a few days.
1-TAG combines two elements for ultimate protection against counterfeiting
1-TAG is based on a combination of physical random processes and cryptographic signatures. The term cryptographic signature refers to processes that can be used to document the authenticity of data and enable this data to be checked by everyone. First, a pattern randomly generated from copper threads is applied to a label. This pattern is read off using a camera, and a cryptographic key that is unique to each manufacturer converts it into an equally unique code. This cryptographic signature ensures that the random pattern, code, and product information are linked up in such a way that they offer reliable protection against manipulation. The code is printed on the label next to the pattern of copper threads using a digital drop-on-demand inkjet system from Linoprint. "We designed 1-TAG primarily as a security system for brand goods manufacturers and their end customers to provide better protection against counterfeit products," says Stephan Plenz, Member of the Heidelberg Management Board responsible for Equipment. "For the first time, this technology allows brand goods manufacturers to incorporate their customers into the process of counterfeit protection. Thanks to its high level of security and simple user handling, 1-TAG offers extremely effective protection, particularly for health- or security-critical products."
1-TAG offers reliable brand protection
Brand goods manufacturers can also use 1-TAG to protect their brand names against misuse by specifying in advance, for example, how many items a packaging company can label with the 1-TAG technology and which product information can be coded during this process. The quota of security labels defined in this way is produced just-in-time on-site by applying signatures to a corresponding number of raw labels, i.e. labels that have not yet been assigned to a product through a signature. The quota is specified via a secure Internet connection and can be redefined quickly and easily each day. In this way, there are no superfluous labels that need to be documented by the packager. Remaining raw labels can be kept for the next order without the risk of misuse.
Protection against the misuse or theft of the cryptographic key used with 1-TAG is comparable with the most secure solutions for Internet banking. Implementation is fast and risk-free for brand owners, because Heidelberg manages all the security-relevant processes.
Consumers can easily check product authenticity using commercially available smartphones
To check the authenticity of a product labeled with 1-TAG technology, end customers only need their smartphone and the freely available 1-TAG app. The software scans the security label and detects immediately whether the content of the QR code matches the pattern of the neighboring copper threads or not. This process does not require access to the mobile data network, which means that the check is free of charge across the globe. In addition to the result of the check, the app also displays the corresponding brand, the product name, and the size of the packaging and can supply end customers with additional product-specific information. For example, the best-before date or batch number can be integrated into the code and accessed in parallel to the authenticity check. What's more, users can also access the websites of the products or manufacturers from 1-TAG via weblinks. This gives brand goods manufacturers additional options for addressing customers - particularly now that more and more people are accessing the Internet through their smartphone while on the move.
Sales centers and supermarkets can also integrate the check into their existing logistics systems. The additional data supplied can also be used for logistics purposes and enables interaction with inventory management systems.
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