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| 2 minutes read

Anti-counterfeit packaging - another line of defence

The global anti-counterfeit packaging market was valued by Markets And Markets at US$117.2 billion in 2021 and is projected by some to reach US$454.01 billion by 2031.

Anti-counterfeit packaging is the "technique of safeguarding [a] product to stop and avoid counterfeiting and intellectual property infringement" and entails measures such as "wrapping the product and labelling that covering with specific identification marks for each product so that it can be monitored and traced and any attempts at counterfeiting are thwarted" (GlobalNewsWire, 2023). 

TechSciReserch's report from November 2022 outlines the top 5 trends in anti-counterfeit packaging last year, namely:

  1. QR code product authentication - it is reported that QR product authentication is rapidly becoming the industry standard for consumer goods. In my anti-counterfeiting practice, I have noticed that an increasing number of fake goods seized by Border Force feature QR codes on the labels, presumably to try to appear legitimate given the market trend for brand owners to adopt this method of authentication; 
  2. Anti-counterfeit inks, including invisible fluorescent ink, infrared excitation inks, photochromic inks, luminous inks, coin-reactive inks and laser hologram inks;
  3. Blockchain solutions based on tamper proof data;
  4. Metasurface-driven optically variable devices that freely regulate light and change colour based on the angle of incidence; 
  5. Forensic markers, such as chemical tagging, biological tagging, DNA tagging and isotope ratios. Trace chemicals are often added to materials which can be only be detected by very specific systems. 

One of the industries in which anti-counterfeit packaging is of crucial importance for consumer safety is pharmaceuticals. The global counterfeit drug market is huge and one of the ways that pharma companies try to tackle the problem is innovative packaging solutions such as serialisation, tamper evidence packaging (TEP), RFID and NFC technology, anti-counterfeit inks, and micro-text. 

Given that counterfeiters and those involved in IP crime will employ a variety of different tactics to attack brand owners (such as filing false infringement complaints online as discussed in my article here), anti-counterfeiting strategies should be as comprehensive as possible. Utilising anti-counterfeit packaging techniques to protect shipments of genuine goods can offer a first line of defence and aid with authentication. If companies have an Application for Action (AFA) in place, providing Customs and Border Force authorities with detailed information on packaging techniques used for genuine goods can help with the identification of counterfeit products by their lack of correct anti-counterfeit markers, particularly physical markers such as anti-counterfeit inks, forensic markers and optically variable / holographic labels. Unique QR codes and blockchain solutions can also be very difficult for counterfeiters to replicate. 

Another option for those specifically selling on Amazon is the Transparency program which uses unique codes to identify individual items to ensure that only genuine goods are shipped to consumers. Before shipping items for brands enrolled with Transparency, Amazon will scan the unique barcode affixed to the product's packaging and any units without a barcode will be marked as potential counterfeits. From the consumer's point of view, the Transparency mobile app allows them to scan product QR codes to verify that their shipment is valid and protected by the system. 

Our team of experts is well-placed to assist with the creation of bespoke anti-counterfeiting strategies for brands of all sizes, including physical measures and online brand protection programs. 

The emergence of counterfeit goods, rising brand awareness, consumer awareness of product information, the growth of e-commerce, improvements in printing technology, and concerns about the effects of counterfeit packaging on marketing strategies for goods and consumer health are driving the market for anti-counterfeit packaging.


anti-counterfeiting, brands & trade marks