ISO – Why it's good for Anti-Counterfeiting Technology Suppliers and Users PDF Print E-mail

Recently the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) published ISO 12931, a standard for evaluating authentication technologies used for anti-counterfeiting.


No Agreed Upon Definitions

The standard starts by defining the different classes of authentication technologies: overt, covert and forensic level. Many companies claim that their technology is somehow completely different and in a class of its own from other authentication solutions. If one follows ISO guidelines, companies can no longer classify themselves this way and remain credible.

The truth is that vague classification leads to confused customers anyway. With agreed upon definitions and standard classifications, companies can better positions themselves which is good marketing.


Clears up Misconceptions about Track & Trace

Many in the industry have been saying for years that if a track & trace system is good/strong enough, additional security is not needed. ISO 12931 states that track & trace and authentication are related but that one is not a substitute for the other.


Defines what Makes an Authentication/Anti-Counterfeiting Solution Good

What makes an authentication/anti-counterfeiting solution good might seem obvious but it is not so. Is a good anti-counterfeiting solution one that keeps products from being counterfeited or one that allows counterfeits to be easily spotted? Is a good solution one that relies solely on internal resources or one that brings in external resources as necessary? Is a good solution overt, covert, forensic or some combination? Different organizations have different needs, so what works for one organization might not work for another. But ISO does a good job defining criteria that apply for all organizations.


Define Evaluation Criteria to Assess Authentication/Anti-Counterfeiting Solutions

One needs evaluation criteria for any business decision. But the evaluation criteria for authentication solutions are more numerous and more complicated than for example buying a new computer or a new cell phone.


The standard helps decision makers by putting  all of the evaluation criteria in one organized list so that nothing gets forgotten and also gives organizations benchmarks for how to evaluate the criteria for their own situation.


What the Standard does Not Tell You

ISO 12931 provides much needed guidance but it does not do everything. One area that ISO does not address is where technology solutions end and law enforcement begins in the fight against counterfeit. This is different for every country so it is important for organizations to evaluate what help they will get from their local law enforcement and what evidence they need to show in order to receive their services. By the same token, it is also important for organizations to understand what qualifies as admissible evidence in court in their jurisdiction.


What implications will this have in the real world?

ISO 12931 solves a couple of practical problems that should help improve the anti-counterfeiting industry.


Customers and technology suppliers not communicating properly – It is not unusual for customers to approach us without knowing the first thing about taggant technology or anti-counterfeiting. When the customer is not upfront about this, it can lead to a lot of confusion. A readily available standard will give potential customers a point of reference for industry terminology and industry standards.

Unrealistic expectations – We have yet to hear from someone who believes that implementing an anti-counterfeiting solution will solve all of their problems overnight, but we do get some inquiries with unrealistic expectations about what an authentication solution will accomplish for them. ISO 12931 clears some of that up and will hopefully bring us and other technology suppliers customers with a more realistic picture of what authentication technology can do for them.

Easing authentication technology supplier conflicts – It is not unusual for players in the anti-counterfeiting industry to fight among themselves about definitions, how technology should be classified etc… This happens among competitors and partners alike. Hopefully now we can all stop arguing and start working together to promote the benefits of authentication technology in one clear voice with consistent definitions.


Want to learn more about ISO 12931? Download a free summary or purchase the standard from the ISO Store.

Want to learn more about the technologies that meet ISO 12931 criteria? Make an appointment with an InkSure representative.


Add comment

Profanity is strictly prohibited. InkSure reserves the right to remove comments that we feel are hurtful, inappropriate or unproductive. Please keep your comments professional and appropriate.

Security code