The best defense against counterfeit products entering the supply chain is a comprehensive offense, experts say. Legislation, litigation, anti-counterfeiting tools and technologies, and participation in supply chain-wide anti-counterfeiting efforts all can combine to make intellectual property theft a tougher task for IP thieves.
To that end, action to stem counterfeiting continues on multiple fronts. Legislation to update the United States' IP enforcement laws continues to trundle through Congressional channels. In February, the international policing organization Interpol launched a database on intellectual property crime to enable international cooperation on IP protection. Supporting that effort was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a partner in the anti-counterfeiting initiative. Additionally, Interpol and the U.S. Chamber in late May announced a major counterfeiting investigation in South America had netted $115 million in seizures and 185 arrests.
These large-scale initiatives are backed by efforts at individual companies and institutions to provide security measures to aid others' anti-counterfeiting efforts, or to enhance their own. Recent tools and strategies introduced include:
Hewlett-Packard's Specialty Printing Systems has expanded its offerings to the pharmaceutical industry with the introduction of a new ink cartridge. The Pharma Black CB935A inkjet cartridge is for branding, dosage and security requirements, and allows individual capsules or tablets to be marked. Potential benefits of the product include an additional anti-counterfeiting measure. Additionally, it helps comply with California's ePedigree pharmaceutical requirements when used with other HP Product Tracking and Authentication offerings.
Technologies to help undermine counterfeiting include Hewlett-Packard's new inkjet cartridge, which allows individual capsules to be marked (above), and Eastman Kodak's Traceless System (below), which uses undetectable markers and handheld readers to improve security.
- Eastman Kodak Co. announced it will implement its Kodak Traceless System for anti-counterfeiting on its branded rechargeable lithium-ion digital camera batteries supplied by Sanyo Electric Co. Kodak says the system uses "forensically undetectable" markers that can be put on printed materials, product packaging or product components. Only handheld Kodak readers can detect the markers, the company says. DonRuss Playoff and Liz Claiborne are among other firms deploying this anti-counterfeiting technology.
- In April Philip Morris USA filed two federal lawsuits to stop the importation, distribution and sale of counterfeit cigarettes and unauthorized use of its trademarks. The company has filed 30 other cases against counterfeit importers in federal courts over the past four years.
- NanoInk announced the creation of a new business unit, NanoGuardian, aimed at the life sciences and other industries subject to heavy counterfeiting. Anchoring the business unit is the company's NanoEncryption technology, which incorporates semi-covert, covert and nanoscale forensic features at the unit dose level, according to the firm.
- 3M reports that it has expanded its pharmaceutical collaboration with TAP Pharmaceutical Products for 3M's pharmaceutical track-and-trace technology. The anti-counterfeiting approach uses an encrypted digital signature combined with a unique identifier at the manufacturing site to establish product authenticity. That combination is decrypted and read at the dispensing site to validate authenticity. RFID chips store and transmit information. The collaboration extends a relationship that started as a pilot program in 2006.
- The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing introduced into circulation new $5 bills. The new security features include splashes of purple in the middle of the bill, relocation of the security thread and two watermarks instead of one.