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Can you spot a fake? ISO standard to expose "€œknock-offs"

by Maria Lazarte on
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From vital medicines to sophisticated airplane parts, failure to identify counterfeit products can result in serious harm to users. A new ISO standard will make it easier to expose fakes, everywhere in the world.

ISO 12931:2012, Performance criteria for authentication solutions used to combat counterfeiting of material goods, will increase consumer confidence, make supply chains more secure and help public authorities to create and implement preventive, deterrent and punitive policies.

Jean-Michel Loubry, Chair of the ISO project committee that developed the standard, says, "Counterfeiting has become one of the major activities of organized crime. Consumers do not always have the time or expertise to spot fakes, and are easily tricked into thinking a product is something else. With most global brands targeted by knock-offs, industry will welcome ISO 12931."

Trade in counterfeit products amounts to over USD 500 billion annually and the numbers are growing every year. Fake goods do not offer the same safety, environmental, quality and regulatory guarantees as genuine products, putting individuals, communities and the distribution chain at risk. The trade of counterfeits also has wider economic implications, including lower earnings and job losses for legitimate workers, brand value damage for targeted companies and rights holders, and tax losses for governments.

"The problem is getting worse as more and more transactions take place online, making it easier for fakes to cut across territorial borders," says Mr. Loubry. "And it’s not just luxury goods at stake. Counterfeiting covers everything, from electronics to pharmaceuticals. Not only does this prevent fair market competition, but it has some truly scary safety implications!"

Authentication solutions (holograms, taggants, marks, etc.) help companies make sure that their products can be distinguished from fakes. ISO 12931 will make it easier to provide reliable evidence to identify genuine products throughout the entire material good life cycle. By specifying performance requirements for authentication tools, the new standard will harmonize global action and ensure effectiveness. ISO 12931 can be used by organizations of all types and sizes, and applies to both products and/or their packaging.  

ISO 12931:2012, Performance criteria for authentication solutions used to combat counterfeiting of material goods, was developed by ISO project committee ISO/TC 246, Anti-counterfeiting tools. It costs 122 Swiss francs and is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details) and from ISO Central Secretariat through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication and Information department.