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Countering the counterfeiter – brand protection for digital label printers

Labels Countering the counterfeiter – brand protection for digital label printers


by Danny Mertens

Counterfeiters cost the global economy $1.5 billion each year in lost revenues. That is nearly 8% of world trade – a formidable number that illustrates how urgent the situation is. Not surprisingly, brand owners are desperately seeking for new ways to protect their products and they expect the solutions to come from the printing business. Fortunately, digital presses are equipped with technology to counter counterfeiting today. This blog serves as an introduction to some of the most effective solutions currently available for digital printers.

Countering the counterfeiter – brand protection for digital label printers

Where counterfeiting used to be restricted to luxury goods, such as tobacco, jewelry, perfume and the like, today almost all product categories fall prey to organized crime. Sometimes the product itself is tampered with, other times a genuine pack is used for counterfeit products.

Brand protection requires a coordinated approach

Protecting brands against counterfeiting, implies that brand owners and converters/printers work together right from the very beginning to build one or more counterfeit deterrence, product authentication and/or brand protection technologies into the design of the label or pack.

A coordinated approach allows brands and printers to:

  • build counterfeit deterrence, product authentication and brand protection technologies into the design of the label or pack from the very beginning.

  • combine technologies so as to provide the most effective overall brand protection solution.

  • try and make each individual pack or label unique.

  • change the solutions used on a frequent basis in order to keep ahead of the counterfeiter.

Here will cover some of the most effective anti-counterfeiting solutions and explain how they can be combined with digital printing. Since most of these techniques are part of the digital workflow, they hardly require any additional investments.

Variable printing

One of digital printing’s fortes is its high level of flexibility. Variabilization not only creates additional appeal to the end user, it is also an effective tool in the battle against counterfeiting. Digital technology allows converters to give every product item a unique number or code for tracking or authentication purposes. By using multiple colors to represent the numbering, it becomes even harder to copy

Apart from numbers, printers can also use varying images and illustrations. Cryptoglyphs, for example, are a series of printed dots which are randomly placed on the package to form a shape which can only be recognized using a digital scanner.


Intricate designs and drawings on packs and labels are very hard to copy. One popular example is “guilloche”: a special line drawing in highly irregular and complicated shapes and colors. The solution is often used for bank notes, passports or ID cards but it has also proved its effectiveness for commercial products.

Raised images

Raised images is another effective way to protect brands against counterfeiting. Printing specific images or illustrations in black with 4 toners on top of each other inside a black field in one black layer, creates a distinct tactile difference which is hard to copy. The easy to feel height difference can be used to authenticate the document.

Would you like to learn more about Xeikon’s solutions against counterfeiting?