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Beating the Product Counterfeiters

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Beating the Product Counterfeiters

Keyboardpiracy They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but when it comes to business, imitation can be a huge problem. Last month Inc.com featured an article on counterfeiting and the impact on the US economy. Product piracy has affected many industries such as software, airplane parts, fashion, music and pharmaceutical drugs to the tune of billions of dollars in lost revenue every year. Some individual companies have had to lay off workers because of the lost business due to counterfeiting. So how does a company fight back? The best place to start is with your own packaging. For years companies have used holographic labels on their products but with today's digital printing technology there is a much better way. HP in conjunction with the pharmaceutical industry have developed a system that can put a unique identifying color barcode on every product item - they call this "item level serialization" where every item in batch has a unique barcode. These color barcodes can contain large amounts of information that are virtually impossible to duplicate. In a 1" square you can encode 700 characters worth of information, which is roughly the length of this paragraph. The beauty about this system is that with a scan of the label you can know exactly what day the product was bottled, where it was bottled and how it was distributed. This can also help with product recalls. So that is the sophisticated way to fight counterfeiters and implementing this system will be effective but also cost upwards of $100,000. Now, most businesses don't have that much money to address counterfeiting. There is a much simpler approach that just involves using Excel, a simple barcode and leveraging the power of digital label printing. Here is an example of how this can work. Say you have product run of 5,000 and so you want to order 5,000 product labels. Use the RAND() function in Excel to create 5,000 random numbers. You can multiply this random number by, say, 1,000,000,000, so you can create a list of 5,000 random numbers between 1 and 999,999,999. You can then encode these random numbers with a simple barcode such as Code 128. Then allocate a small space on your label for this barcode, making sure you separate it from your UPC code (you can read more about barcodes here). With digital label printing we can print a different barcode, encoding your random number, on every one of your 5,000 labels. Now, if you see your products in a retail store and you suspect they might be counterfeit you can simply scan some of the barcodes and compare the numbers to the random numbers on your spreadsheet. The numbers should all be different and should all match numbers on your spreadsheet. If not, then you have a counterfeit product. If all this sounds too complicated then don't worry, here at Lightning Labels we will be happy to do the hard work for you.