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Protecting the $1bn global electronics industry from Counterfeiters

Published: 11 September 2018 - Victoria White

Tim Congdon, European Business Development Manager at CCL Design UK, explains how you can product your business from counterfeiting.

The impact of counterfeiting across the $1billion global electronics industry has started to be widely recognised – and as a result – many companies have started to invest heavily in protecting customers, intellectual property, and brands.

But it is hard to keep up with these increasingly sophisticated counterfeiters, and the scale of this problem is hitting almost all industries. Even the big online retailers are investing large amounts of time and money into fighting the counterfeit sellers on their sites - with the likes of Amazon, eBay, and continuing to enforce strict procedures to remove offending products.

It’s not just the fact that counterfeiting of electronics products can seriously damage the brand names and bottom lines of major manufacturers, but they can also harm or kill.

One of the problems is that counterfeiters are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are employing a range of different tactics. A common approach is product divergence – where products manufactured for one country or geographical market/channel, are sold in another market at a lower price. Therefore, it is important to have very strict tracking policies with your suppliers, but you also need to keep a very close eye on their operations as it has been known for packaging providers to do overruns of product packaging - then sell them to a counterfeiter. The counterfeiter will then place copycat products in them, which will appear by the packaging, to be the original product. 

Alternatively, businesses also need to be prepared for those counterfeiters that can’t get their hands on original packaging but can still produce replica packaging – which is very convincing to the naked eye.   

So, what can be done to fight these counterfeiters?

One option is to use brand protection and authentication, and this is leading to a significant global demand. For instance, it was recently reported that the global market for anti-counterfeiting, brand protection and security packaging technology is forecast to grow strongly over the next four years to $3.65billion in 2022.

As a result of this growth in protection products, and the awareness to counterfeiters, increasingly major electronics companies are now working with specialist manufacturers to develop innovative ways to design labels, ranging from tamper evident box seals to highly complex multi-layer authentication labels. Decorative brand labels can also double as both identifiers and functional anti-counterfeit solutions – by including both overt and covert security features built into the design. In short, products must remain easy to authenticate, but almost impossible to copy. Some examples of these products include Videomark, Security Labels (Overt/Covert), Taggants and Track & Trace.
Videomark - is a highly overt security feature that has several covert layers built in. To achieve this unique overt feature a photopolymer film is utilised in our bespoke manufacturing process, which allows us to create 3D images and depth that cannot be achieved with traditional Holographic techniques. As such there has been no successful attempts at copying the Videomark product by counterfeiters.

Security Labels (Overt/Covert) – these range from a box seal to a label with up to 20 different overt and covert security features. We use customised manufacturing equipment to produce complex products in volume.

Taggants – ideal for use in service centres or a higher level corporate security, a Taggant is an invisibly printed feature, which has a unique chemical signature that can only be detected using a specific handheld reader. The reader verifies the presence of the taggant and checks it has the correct signature. This product can be combined with other brand protection features to create a multi-layered security solution.

Track & Trace – SecureTrack is an anti-counterfeiting solution that can be easily integrated to suit business needs –  so it is used for both consumer and corporate level authentication. It was designed specifically for the printing of code management solutions, including serialisation, encrypted security codes, and customised coding algorithms. These combine to provide proprietary track and trace capability, which enables tracking of product from manufacture to end user.

SecureTrack can accurately Geo locate products using web base systems and phone apps - providing confidence for the end user that they are using an authentic product. In addition, it allows OEMs to confirm the global usage location of products.

CCL Design UK’s products are designed, developed, and manufactured within its secure facilities, ensuring all materials are closely controlled. For instance, CCL operates a secure waste disposal policy, codenames for projects and raw materials, background checks, biometric access control, and employee searches. As a result, there have been no successful attempts at copying its more advance products on the black market.

Source: Industrial Compliance

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