There are many techniques that companies use to fight counterfeits. Most of these resemble the classic sword and armor evolution. Each time you get better armor, a better weapon is develop to counter it, and vise versa. The same goes for the battle against counterfeiting. However some companies and researchers have made very interesting and very powerful ways to make sure counterfeiter is hard to do for their products. Here is a list of the top ten methods that are being used, or being developed.
Listed in no order. It is impossible to rank which is better then the next. All of these are very powerful tools:
When the U.S. and other countries tested thousands of nuclear bombs beginning in the 1950s, the entire Earth got a light dusting of cesium-137, an isotope that rarely occurs in nature. It found its way into the air, the soil, grapes, and, by extension, into wine. Cesium-137 dating became an unexpected consequence of nuclear weapons, with some unexpected benefits. Take a bottle of wine—or a painting or ivory or pottery—and if you can find traces of cesium-137, then it’s a post-atomic age forgery.
Cesium-137 was first applied to wine forgery in the 1990s, when French physicist Philippe Hubert of the University of Bordeaux (where else, really?) was working with machines that could detect small amounts of radioactivity. In his lab beneath the Alps, he began testing wine for radioactivity.
By randomly dumping multicolored nanowires onto a plastic film, the researchers say they have created patterns (a nanowire fingerprint if you will) that are nearly impossible to replicate. These fingerprints (which are much smaller than the eye can see) could be embedded in electronics, money, drugs, and so on, to prevent fraud and the proliferation of counterfeit goods.
Researchers at the USDA’s agricultural research station in Greenbelt, Md., figured out how to overcome this problem using small SNPs or single nucleotide proteins (“snips”) that make up unique fingerprints of different cacao species and hybrid varieties…
Zhang, who worked at a cacao research center in Peru for a decade, decided to use the seed coat of the cacao bean to extract the DNA needed to make a positive identification of the plant’s origins. Zhang and colleagues successfully identified the location of the type of cacao trees grown in the Cajamarca Province of Peru as compared to the kind of cacao grown in other parts of Peru, Brazil, Trinidad and Ecuador.
This would be to hard and expensive for a consumer to use, however for the companies that make candy, this method would be great to guard the supply chain.
4.) Bacterial fingerprinting
Bacterial fingerprinting started in 2011 with Emmental, the most widely exported Swiss cheese, after fakes surfaced in Italy.
“You take the cheese, extract the DNA and check for the presence of your marker (Bacteria),” said Deborah Rollier, one of the lead scientists for the project at Agroscope, the Swiss federal government’s institute for food science in Bern.
Same thing with #3, this is more of a company tool, then a consumer one.
The particles, 200 microns in length, are actually polymers engineered to feature stripes of nanocrystals (basically, very tiny crystals), which will glow in different colours when covered in near-infrared light. The team does not just want to embed these particles in high-priced luxury goods and electronics, but potentially in vaccine containers — they can be engineered to demonstrate if they’ve been in temperatures that are too hot or cold.
The MIT team describe the particles as having “decodable identities”, introduced using different elements — ytterbium, gadolinium, erbium and thulium.
“Randomly embedding ten particles from a set of just 1,000 unique asymmetric particles yields an encoding capacity [that’s] enough to uniquely barcode every manufactured product on Earth,” they promise.
On top of this, its tough stuff. It is claimed to withstand the extreme conditions common to plastics manufacturing, including temperatures of up to 260 degrees Celsius. Integrate them into the very fabric of your goods, and it will be almost impossible to shift them.
Nano crystals sounds very promising. I can see this used in the future. Just gotta wait for the technology to catch up for this to be put in every smart phone.