How innovative inks are helping sporting events protect their brands

* 2 min read

We’re currently facing an international counterfeiting epidemic. According to Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP), which was set up by the International Chamber of Commerce to tackle the issue, counterfeit and pirated goods now drain more than $1trillion from the global economy.

But ink instilled with hidden security measures is one of the many effective ways to fight against this.

Take fake tickets, one of the first ports of call for the counterfeiter looking to ply his trade. We’ve developed various methods to show whether a ticket is fraudulent – and these measures don’t just pick out the fakes, they help apprehend the offenders too.

So how does it all work? With our SunGuard product APOLLO, for instance, it comes down to a multi-layered approach. The ticket has three different features which can be recognised by scanners at varying levels of entry into an area or stadium. It’s not unlike the way a concentric castle is designed. A fake ticket may well pass the first two stages of entry but a fraudulent item will get found out once it gets to the third and final barrier.

And that’s the beauty of the technology – by the time an offending ticket has reached this far, it’s very easy to spot. They’re effectively fenced into a safe, enclosed area. It’s a successful technique and one that is now implemented across most tournaments in 2016.

Of course, this is only one example. Colour-shifting designs or angle-dependent pigments – the same as you now see on the notes of most currencies – are a reliable method of demonstrating authenticity. But typically our products incorporate what we term overt and covert features – elements that can be seen and elements that are hidden from view.

It’s a simple principle and that’s why it works so well. We follow a similar method with sporting garments. The key thing is to create a differentiating factor that sets a fake apart from an authentic jersey. But this can be difficult when products are produced on such a large scale. Fortunately, football shirts go hand in hand with customisation. If a consumer gets a name and number on the back, that’s where we embed information that proves it’s genuine. This way we have a marker, which means we can ensure that fake shirts don’t make it into the wrong place and malfunction when the whole world is watching.

Ultimately tackling counterfeiting is a matter of brand protection. There’s no shortage of products on the market that aren’t genuine and it’s our job to prevent consumers from blaming the brand when they end up with something subpar. Engineering markers of authenticity can reach an astonishing level of complexity. So even though counterfeiters are getting better, we’re always one step ahead.