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Bag Maker Adopts RFID Solution to Prevent Counterfeits, Gray Market

Bagjack is using Serfides' authentication software to track high-end messenger bags shipped from its German manufacturing site and, eventually, within a store.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 24, 2013

German messenger-bag manufacturer Bagjack is deploying a new RFID-based anti-counterfeiting solution from Berlin startup Serfides, intended to help confirm the authenticity of goods, as well as identify instances in which the product may have undergone an unexpected channel on its way to consumers. This past summer, Bagjack piloted the technology by tagging its high-end products with Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID tags, and by then reading those tags as they left the manufacturing site. But now, the company intends to instruct some of its dealers in Japan, as well as its own international scouts, to begin reading the tags, to ensure that the bags stay on the expected supply chain route.

Serfides was founded a year ago, after some early development work was conducted on the anti-counterfeiting software, which has two primary purposes: to authenticate products, and to track the goods' movements through the supply chain. For the authentication feature, Serfides software assigns each tagged item with a specific validation code that is paired with a unique ID number encoded to that item's passive RFID tag—either high-frequency (HF) or ultrahigh-frequency (UHF)—or on a label printed with a 2D data matrix or QR code. That validation code is encrypted and stored not only on the tag's chip, but also in Serfides software operating on a user's back-end database. When an interrogator reads the tag's unique ID, it also captures its validation code. Serfides software operating on the user's database then decrypts that code. If the code does not match the one linked to the tag's unique ID number, the user can assume he or she has a counterfeit tag and product.

Bagjack is attaching an RFID tag to various parts of its messenger bags (such as the inside flap or underneath one of the mesh straps), depending on the bag's design.
It can be difficult for manufacturers, retailers or customers to determine if an RFID tag is cloned. Therefore, a company that reads a cloned tag on a counterfeit product might not realize that item is actually a fake. Serfides' solution is intended to prevent such tag cloning, according to Richard Doll, Serfides' managing director. In addition, Doll says, the solution is designed to check an individual product's movement history against the scheduled movement profile previously entered into the software during logistics planning processes.

Bagjack produces rugged messenger bags that it initially provided to bicycle couriers, and which have since become popular with a variety of customers worldwide. The company makes high-end messenger bags, and as its business has grown, it has begun offering less expensive products manufactured in Asia for mass-market purposes. Counterfeiting and gray-market redirection of its goods through the wrong channels are both of concern to the company, particularly with regard to its higher-priced custom products, which are still manufactured in Germany.

The company has opted to employ button-style HID Global NFC RFID tags on products manufactured in Germany, as well as QR codes on goods made in Asia. Bagjack had considered utilizing UHF RFID tags, Doll says, but opted for the NFC tags to make it possible to use NFC-enabled phones to interrogate the tags rather than large "industrial-type" readers.

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