Track and Trace: Shifting Technologies to Foil Counterfeiters

A provider of optically variable devices embeds itself in pharma packaging.





By Maximillian Del Rey
Assistant Editor


Kurz USA's authenticity and tamper-evidence devices include color-shifting seals, which require no devices or special training to read.

Businesses in the United States lose between $200 billion and $250 billion annually from the sale of counterfeit goods, according to reports by the FBI. According to the Office of U.S. Trade Representative’s 2008 Special 301 Report, released April 28, “The manufacture and distribution of counterfeit pharmaceuticals is a growing problem that poses special concerns for consumer health and safety.”

For every move to counter this trade, its black market seems to find new ways to peddle fake products. Companies in the authentication and security trade, therefore, face constant challenges to stay ahead of the curve. New technologies dictate the evolution of the business.

Kurz USA’s (Charlotte, NC) optically variable devices include technologies that have evolved from holographic security features to more-advanced elements.

Kurz’s development of its Trustseal technologies appears bright in all lighting conditions and accommodates built-in features that can be examined forensically. Kurz’s authenticity and tamper-evident devices can be applied to PVC/PVdC/PVC blister packaging and offer a range of both overt and covert protective features.

“We’re moving with Trustseal to make features that are authenticated easily, without reading devices or specialized training,” says Alex Lewis, Kurz Americas–area sales manager, brand protection products.

Kurz has developed Surface Relief, a technology that creates a design element that looks tactile, but is flat to the touch. Surface Relief looks embossed—not like a 3-D hologram—but is printed on a flat surface. This allows a product to be authenticated by touch, Lewis says.

Kurz’s ConTrust creates elements that have differing levels of contrast. For instance, a plastic card affixed with ConTrust can be rotated 90 degrees to create a different contrast with design elements. ConTrust can be printed in both grayscale and full color.

Kurz has also worked to develop technology that can be adapted to existing machinery and applied on multiple surfaces, Lewis says.

“Trustseal can be used in a hot or cold transfer foil on primary packaging,” Lewis says. “We can transfer it onto labels and tamper-evident label stocks.”

Perlen Converting (Perlen, Switzerland) has worked with Kurz to create and treat blister films to integrate Kurz’s security features before the films are converted into packaging. The films can then be manufactured on standard machinery.

“The blister side of [Kurz’s business] is a relatively new development for us,” Lewis says, elaborating that Kurz’s business has grown steadily in many different industry segments.

Kurz’s future development depends on the needs of its customers, Lewis says. It’s a matter that probably only counterfeiters themselves could answer. But with a voracious, profitable black market continuously attempting to crack and copy authentic products’ security features, demand for authentication technologies will continue to grow.

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