Tech Tools for Anticounterfeiting

Nanomarkers, holograms, microlenticular technology and other anticounterfeiting measures

In 1739, Benjamin Franklin, then a Philadelphia printer with a colonial government contract, intentionally misspelled Pennsylvania on the currency his house printed in order to battle counterfeiters. As the Smithsonian Institution tells it, Franklin reasoned that a counterfeiter would correct the spelling to make a bill look legitimate.

Today, manufacturers use both overt and covert technologies to provide a multilayered approach to security. Ed Dietrich, director for the Americas at Reconnaissance International and a newsletter publisher and consultant on authentication techniques, provides us with a primer on the state of anticounterfeiting technology development and use.

Anticounterfeiting technologies

Technology Description Used In
Holograms (Overt) Stickers or labels containing complex 3-D images Retail and pharmaceuticals; financial and government sectors for document authentication
Optically variable Inks (Overt) Inks that shift color when viewed from different angles Documents such as currency, passports; product security
Microlenticular technology (Overt) Microengineered plastic screen laminated over microprinting, forming irreproducable image Currency, migrating to product security
Special inks (Covert) Ultraviolet and infrared ink; also thermochromic ink, changes color when they contact heat Variety of government documents
RFID Tracks product movement through supply chain Pharma, retail
Nanomarkers (Covert) Particles engineered into a product; possibly ink in labeling. Readable with electron microscope In testing (new technology)

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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