A hint of spy thriller hangs in the air at the KURZ head office, where we have made a date with Jürgen Scheuer, Area Sales Manager TRUSTCONCEPT. He is not normally here in Fürth, but visiting customers all over Germany and Austria. His field is the counterfeiting protection of products, and advising customers on how modern technologies can hamper, and even make counterfeiting impossible.
Orofin: Mr Scheuer, we all know that luxury brands are counterfeited, but that’s not the entire problem, is it?
Jürgen Scheuer: Cheap textiles and watches are just the tip of the iceberg. We are concerned with the protection of products that are, for instance, security relevant. It is estimated that about ten percent of replacement parts worldwide are counterfeited, and not just for washing machines, but for automobiles and even aircraft. This can lead to significant safety risks, and perhaps even liability issues. Not using original parts in auto repair, for instance, voids the warranty and, under certain circumstances, even the business license. If there is an accident, the owner is held liable – not a pleasant thought.
Orofin: But can OEMs do anything about this?
Jürgen Scheuer: Quite a lot. We can make counterfeiter lives very difficult. The tool of choice is proprietary OVD technology from KURZ. It uses optical diffraction, i.e. refraction of light and other processes, in order to test, for instance, manufacturer replacement-part packaging for authenticity. We equip these OVD labels with visible, latent, and forensic security features which can be seen with the naked eye, with conventional tools like magnifiers, and with special proprietary tools.
Orofin: So these security features cannot be falsified?
Jürgen Scheuer: Well, at the highest level of security we employ nanostructures which even a scanning electron microscope cannot detect. This requires a special laser, whose beam hits the security feature at a precisely defined angle. Only then can it be detected. If a counterfeiter doesn’t know where or what to look for, and with which tools under which conditions, then it is relatively secure. But with enough money, time, effort, and criminal energy, you can probably falsify any security feature. TRUSTSEAL®, our proprietary trademarked OVD technology, sets a very high bar, especially since we can combine it with other security techniques, from serialization via QR or bar codes to integration of RFID and NFC chips.
“We must always stay two or three steps ahead of counterfeiters. We have always managed to do this with TRUSTSEAL® OVD technology.”
Jürgen Scheuer, Area Sales Manager TRUSTCONCEPT at KURZ
Orofin: What about digitization?
Jürgen Scheuer: We are taking different approaches. For example, we have developed a holographic 2D code that does not reflect light over the entire color spectrum, and can thus be read by a normal QR-code reader in mobile phones, but will not work with conventional holographic structures. If the QR code can be read and the stored security code has been checked, the replacement part is authentic and the customer is routed to a website for information from a customer loyalty scheme or other retention campaign. And we can now produce custom security labels. We use an impressed 16-digit security code, whose last three digits are again holographically integrated into the label, and are different for each individual label. This too, the customer can verify without any tool. At the same time, our customers can store the number in a barcode and retrace when and where they used the label. This is always advantageous when products from the gray market are involved. These are, for instance, replacement parts offered cheaper in some national markets, and which then find their way into more upscale markets over obscure channels. The path of these products can be more easily traced with barcodes.
Orofin: If there is a website involved, what happens to the data?
Jürgen Scheuer: First they go into one of our data centers, which are especially secured. And there are no personal data, so there are no GDPR issues. Of course we make data available upon customer request, and provide analysis advice. There are some branded goods manufacturers who already employ specialists to trace their flow of goods and act against product piracy and the ensuing image and secondary damage. We also offer our customers custom apps to verify the authenticity of components. Here we provide various opportunities to protect against counterfeiting. The selection ranges from “quite simple, but effective” to “quite complex, but invaluable to customer relations” – and also happens to be very good-looking.
Orofin: Mr Scheuer, thank you for this interesting discussion.
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