Authentix and HP Indigo to help Brand Owners Combat Global Counterfeiting

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New alliance delivers greater flexibility and accessibility to brand owners in applying covert security marking solutions  

ADDISON, Texas, September 25, 2017 – Authentix®, a leading global authentication and information services company, is pleased to announce it is collaborating with HP Indigo to enhance brand protection programs. This marks the first time Authentix Sherlox™ covert markers have been specifically optimized for the growing market of digital presses and certified to operate on HP Indigo digital presses.

To successfully combat counterfeiting, diversion and other forms of illicit trade, brand owners need a security marking solution that is agile and keeps them one step ahead of the bad actors. Additionally, local labeling and packaging regulations are increasing in complexity, requiring greater flexibility and responsiveness from Printing Service Providers (PSPs).

With Authentix Sherlox’s new HP Indigo certified covert mark, HP Indigo PSPs will now be able to provide:

  • High-quality, affordable covert security features on a variety of packaging
  • Greater flexibility to meet various print requirements, with shorter lead times

“Thanks to HP Indigo and their qualified network of thousands of print service providers, Authentix Sherlox will now reach more brand owners and provide access to a level of security previously unattainable on a digital press,” says David Schneider, General Manager, Authentix Brand Business Unit. “Together with HP Indigo and the PSPs, we have now connected the necessary partners to deliver and execute an effective security program for brand owners.”

Sherlox aggregates, organizes and reports sampling and testing results to identify problem areas within supply chains for companies across multiple health care and life sciences industries, nutraceuticals, safety products, distilled spirits, agricultural chemicals, automotive, electronics, clothing, luxury goods, and other manufacturers of high-value consumer products.

“CCL is continuously adapting to add value to our brand customers,” said Brent Chorneyko, CCL VP & GM. “We have a longstanding partnership with Authentix for labeling healthcare products and a large installed base of HP Indigo devices globally. We were very pleased to conduct the world’s first label test run with Authentix materials on our HP Indigo devices. It was the model of collaboration and a complete success.”

CCL Label is the leader in digital printing for the Pharmaceutical, Nutraceutical, Agriculture, Personal Care and Consumer goods markets, with more than 65 digital presses. Thirteen of the digital presses are uniquely positioned for the pharmaceutical market, utilizing cGMPs processes. Conveniently located all over the globe with over 160 locations on six continents, CCL works with companies of all sizes to develop digital printing and brand protection strategies.

Authentix Sherlox will be demonstrated in the HP Indigo and CCL booths at Pack Expo conference September 25-27 in Las Vegas as well as in the HP Indigo’s booth at LabeL Expo September 25-28 in Brussles.

About Authentix:

Authentix, a leading global authentication and information services company, assists customers in combating illicit trade and managing the integrity of their global supply chains.  With comprehensive end-to-end authentication solutions, we help safeguard customers in refined fuels (e.g., gasoline, diesel, lubes, LPG), and branded products (e.g., pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, spirits industries, and consumer goods) from counterfeiting, product theft, product diversion, and adulteration. In addition, we help protect currencies for many leading central banks globally.

Headquartered in Addison, Texas USA, Authentix, Inc. has offices in the US, UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Africa serving clients worldwide. For more information, visit https://www.authentix.com/offerings/sherlox/.

About CCL Industries Corporation

CCL Label creates innovative packaging solutions for life.  Serving the packaging and promotional industry for over sixty years, CCL Label proves to be the global supply chain leader of innovative premium packaging, promotional vehicles and comprehensive label solutions for the world’s largest consumer, agricultural and healthcare corporations. More information about CCL Label is available at http://ccllabel.com/.

Elevating Your Brand Protection Strategy with Multilayered Security Solutions

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By: Jeff Conroy, Chief Scientist, Authentix

Many companies are thinking more broadly about how to implement coordinated anti-counterfeiting, anti-diversion strategies across their brands and throughout different regions of the world. Just as tamper-evident seals on bottles of pills and liquid formulations became more common due to a tampering scare in the 1980s, attitudes toward anti-counterfeiting technologies are beginning to evolve.

Once viewing such measures narrowly as an “extra feature” that only “added cost” to the bottom line, brand owners are beginning to realize the importance of protecting the integrity of their brands and the most important part of the equation: protecting the safety of consumers. As serialization technologies continue to evolve, the tracking of individual units through the supply chain could enable very secure and traceable evidence of authentic products being supplied by manufacturers and distributors to end users.

Different Features, Different Purpose

Anti-counterfeiting features that can authenticate products are both overt and covert, and they can be applied in numerous ways: on labels, onto closure seals, on cartons where containers of products are stored, into plastic parts of individual packaging, and even onto metal and glass components of packaging.

The different types of features all serve a different purpose, from enabling end users to quickly identify a branded product as genuine, to covert markings that enable a manufacturer or inspector to identify the source of diversion or other illicit activity. When combined with the careful design and production quality controls used in authentic product manufacturing, these features raise the bar of complexity for counterfeiters and make the product a less attractive target.

With that said, it’s worth considering the value of individual security features versus a multilayered approach.

Overt security features: Visible security features serve a valuable purpose in the authentication stack. They offer a way for individuals to inspect packaging without any specialized tools, and the specialized color-shifting inks (similar to those used on currency) are often difficult to reproduce using scanners or reprographic methods. There are other types of optically variable features as well, including holograms, micro-optics (like the blue stripe found on the current US $100 bill), and reflective features.

Visible security features are a starting point, but counterfeiters are extremely creative and clever. Even if a visible authentication feature is hard to recreate perfectly, a counterfeiter only needs to copy it closely enough to confuse a consumer who just gives a package a quick glance. Additional features create layers of security.

Covert security features: High security covert features can be embedded into labels, closure seals, or other features of product packaging. Although such markers are invisible to the naked eye, they can be detected using specialized handheld surface spectrophotometers. Field instruments use proprietary excitation and detection optics and detection algorithms for rapid, secure field authentication. Additional forensic layers of security are also embedded into the materials and can be confirmed through more extensive laboratory analysis. This additional layer of security proves very difficult for the counterfeiter, but easily verified by field inspectors.

Serialization: In the serialization process, a company marks individual units at the point of manufacture (giving each a unique serial number) and implements stations to read those markings, capture the tracking data, and drop that information into a managed database that allows authorized personnel to monitor where products go after they leave the manufacturing facility. You’re probably most familiar with this process as it applies to shipping a package overnight, when you can track it on the Internet until it reaches its destination.

An effective anti-counterfeiting solution contains multiple, layered components

As a brand owner, it’s good to have options. However, the counterfeiter also has options. Fortunately, technology continues to evolve to help you protect your end users. Today’s reality is that one level of security isn’t enough.

Recently a number of technologies have become available that offer the benefit of not having to add any additional features to the packaging, but the imaging requirements on the production lines can be quite demanding and difficult to implement at speed. Once captured, the identification of the package can take place with conventional cameras, allowing widespread authentication and tracking by inspectors, retailers, or even consumers.

Any combination of covert or overt features or serialization enhance your anti-counterfeiting, anti-diversion strategies. Click here to learn more about brand protection. You can also contact Authentix at info@authentix.com.

Inspector Led Authentication’s Contribution to Brand Protection Programs

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By: Andrzej Hornostaj, VP Brand Solutions, Authentix

Identification of an at-risk product and implementing an authentication solution is not the end of the story, it is just the beginning. Constant inspection of the product in the supply chain and marketplace is required to ensure useful actionable insights is generated to minimize counterfeit and diversion practices while protecting your brand and bottom line.

Let’s Begin with Inspection Design

Inspection design is determined by the objectives of the inspection. Let’s consider two relevant approaches. Will the inspection be reactive to a specific counterfeit event, or proactive determining the scale of counterfeiting and generating actionable insights?

Ideally, inspections, like any investigation, should follow a holistic approach involving several stakeholder teams including product, brand protection, investigative, and legal. Each team has its own requirements for the actionable insights generated from an inspection. Some critical stakeholder questions may be as follows:

Product: What’s the scale and location of the counterfeiting problem for a product?

Brand protection: What’s the level of sophistication of the counterfeit operation (production and logistics)? Are security features being copied? Are packaging design changes required?

Investigative: Can the right data be gathered to support investigations into the counterfeit’s supply chain and to identify the manufacturing source? Is the evidence strong enough that it can be passed on to legal and law enforcement to perform raids and prosecutions?

Who will conduct the inspections?

The boots on the ground can either be members of the brand owner’s staff or third-party inspection agencies working on their behalf. Ideally, to infer useful insights from an inspection, the more data collected the better. This need pushes the brand toward engaging a third-party that can provide the coverage and inspector numbers to achieve data volume.

As always, inspector safety is paramount and consideration should be taken as to whether the inspector needs to be accompanied by law enforcement representatives.

Where to direct initial inspection efforts?

I would suggest initial efforts begin at the retail level where products of interest are typically more accessible to covert inspection. This type of insight helps to determine the scale or extent of the problem and generates a suitable baseline against which further inspections and remediation efforts may be compared. As pharmaceuticals are usually not accessible at pharmacies, other locations in the supply chain should be the initial focus.

Once a baseline is established, then testing of supply chain integrity should be performed. Keep in mind, some obstacles may be encountered at this stage as it is not always possible to accurately track the route by which products reach the end user beyond the first tier distributors.

To assist access / auditing of stock at distributors, brands should ensure that cooperation agreements allow for inspections with short notification times. This will prevent suspect items from being removed from the audit location by a guilty party.

Which inspection tools should be used?

Having the right tools during an inspection to automatically capture the data required for each stakeholder is important and ensures that repeat testing is minimised. With the right type of reader paired with a smart device, inspectors are equipped to not only identify counterfeit products, but also capture location data and photographs of the packaging. This complete picture of the scale and sophistication of the counterfeit operation can form the basis of effective enforcement actions.

Click here to learn more about brand protection. You can also contact Authentix at info@authentix.com.

Preparing for the Pendulum to Swing

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With the proliferation of internet trade and globalization of manufacturing the pendulum has swung in the favor of counterfeiters as far as ease of access to markets and manufacturing capabilities. And no one has been a bigger lightening rod for criticism around this swing than Alibaba founder Jack Ma. Some of this criticism is well deserved, like the time Mr. Ma suggested:

“The problem is the fake products today are of better quality and better price than the real names,” he said at Alibaba’s investor day in Hangzhou. “They are exactly the same factories, exactly the same raw materials but they do not use the names.”(1)

And I suppose if one puts no value on the skills required to do market research, design and test products, develop quality plans and raw material specifications, then yes, contract manufacturers produce the exact same goods whether they carry the added logo and identification of the innovative companies that create the intellectual property and trademarks that people come to know and trust.
But recently Jack Ma wrote an open letter to China’s “parliament” suggesting that harsher enforcement against counterfeiting was key to fighting the problem.(2) It is no coincidence this change in focus from the quality of counterfeits to fighting the scourge of illicit goods comes at a time when The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) reinstated the Alibaba TaoBao platform on its blacklist of “notorious markets” for selling fakes.(3)

But Mr. Ma does in fact have a point here. As reported in the article:

Alibaba says it handed over 4,495 leads on counterfeiting in 2016 that crossed the threshold of goods worth at least 50,000 yuan ($7,250). Of those, the authorities took on 1,184. That resulted in a scant 33 convictions. Alibaba has launched high-profile efforts, such as a push with the police in the city of Shenzhen and the luxury-goods brand Swarovski to shut down merchants selling fake watches. But some lawyers say those efforts amount to showboating.

But the sheer size of the problem of counterfeit distribution through an essentially frictionless market like Alibaba or Amazon Marketplace and Ebay make the follow-up on potential cases overwhelming for enforcement agencies. An activity that used to require some level of distribution and brick and mortar storefront to move counterfeit goods that could be investigated and raided is now replaced by digital entities that can literally appear and disappear with a few keystrokes. Traditional approaches to fighting illicit goods are overmatched.

So, what can a brand owner do to battle this enormous problem? The reality is that in the 21st century if you are a brand owner creating value from those intangible product qualities of design, style, quality, and ultimately reputation, you need to be investing some degree into the further differentiation of your finished good from that of your contract manufacturer. In our twenty years protecting brands we most often see hybrid and multi-layered solutions as effective means to enable different levels of inspection, from the internal security expert, all the way down to the consumer. And with the proliferation of smart devices and internet access, new tools are becoming available set to swing the pendulum back into the favor of brand owners to track the location of their products and possible illicit goods are a rate commensurate with the new internet economy. What is important is that brands consider equipping their goods with an overall brand protection program that includes monitoring and sampling contract manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to gain visibility into the flow of their products to consumers.

For more information visit https://authentix.com/offerings/sherlox/.


1. http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2016/06/15/jack-ma-says-fakes-better-quality-and-better-price-than-the-real-names/

2. http://realmoney.thestreet.com/articles/03/08/2017/alibaba-urges-china-get-real-fakes

3. https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/2016-Out-of-Cycle-Review-Notorious-Markets.pdf

4. http://realmoney.thestreet.com/articles/03/08/2017/alibaba-urges-china-get-real-fakes