NFC Technology Protects Brands Against Piracy

Several companies are utilizing HID Global's Trusted Tag services, which combine cloud authentication with Near Field Communication tags to identify counterfeit products.
Published: October 30, 2019

Fighting piracy and counterfeiting is at the heart of HID Global, which has developed technology that allows users to verify whether or not a product is authentic, via a single cell phone ringtone. Through a service called HID Trusted Tag, a product can be reliably authenticated along the supply chain, from production through distribution and to the point of sale.

At the time of purchase, a consumer can verify the authenticity of a product with a simple touch of his or her Android or iOS mobile device. This solution was created with the intention of protecting brands against black-market activities. Trusted Tag services combine HID’s cloud authentication with its NFC tags, which are available in a variety of shapes and sizes for the purpose of authenticity verification.

NFC tags are inserted into each product during the manufacturing process and can easily be read via an NFC-enabled smartphone (Android and iOS v11 onwards). The advanced encryption capabilities of embedded tags make it impossible to clone or copy them, the company reports, while the cloud-authentication service’s extended security features allow privacy-preserving brand authentication, as well as consumer interaction, in a closed environment.

According to Mark Robinton, HID Global’s director of business development and strategic innovation, HID, as a pioneer of brand protection, is able to drive the mass adoption of brand-protection services in order to prevent consumers from being misled by counterfeit products. “Our goal,” Robinton explains, “goes beyond adding confidence to the supply chain. We want to open a secure channel for a customer-loyalty strategy.”

A study titled “Counterfeiting and Piracy 2017,” conducted by the International Trademark Association (INTA), estimates that international trade in counterfeit and pirated products will reach $991 billion by 2022. Therefore, companies worldwide have already begun to adopt this technology to fight crime. One well-known use case is Tasmania’s Old Kempton Distillery (OKD) liquor store, which uses Trusted Tag services to protect its products (see NFC Raises Spirits for Tasmanian Distillery).

The distillery’s solution uses Trusted Tag services in the AusNFC web application, which drives the front-end mobile experience on customers’ phones. “We wanted to protect the brand,” says Robbie Gilligan, OKD’s business manager and ambassador, “as OKD is one of the most recognized whiskeys in the world and the beverage industry is one of the most sensitive to counterfeiting. We wanted a solution that would allow us to interact safely with our customers after the sale, and we believe this solution gives us just that.”

A cryptographically secure HID NFC tag is embedded on the label of each liquor bottle, which is linked to HID’s cloud-based authentication service. By tapping the bottle with an Apple iPhone or an Android-based mobile phone, a customer can trigger a secure communication channel that authenticates the origin of a premium product to the actual bottle number.

Each touch generates a unique URL, preventing counterfeiters from copying, counterfeiting or manipulating that URL for a false verification. This technology provides a new way for Old Kempton Distillery to stay connected with its customers through direct, hyper-personalized communications that help the company to build loyalty in a closed, privacy-preserving environment.

Another notable use case involves Blue Bite, which launched an authentication package that uses Trusted Tag services for major European brands, in association with Italian company Temera. Yet another example is Canada’s Authentic or Not. Both companies work with HID to deliver a secure brand-authentication experience to leading brands, using patented technology to incorporate product intelligence and unlock real-world interaction with consumers.