Lack of authentication 'undermines US anti-counterfeit strategy'

gavel and lawbookUS policymakers have "missed a golden opportunity" to make authentication technologies mandatory for intellectual property protection and protection against counterfeits, according to the International Authentication Association (IAA).

Referring to the USA's recently-published Joint Strategic Plan on IP Enforcement document, the IAA says that it is "disappointed to see the only reference to authentication methods is the proposal to establish a mandatory requirement for a track and trace system for pharmaceuticals and medical products."

The strategic plan - which covered earlier this month (see Obama strategy on counterfeits calls for industry transparency) - was drawn up by the USA's IP Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) and sets out a series of measures to tackle the trade in counterfeit and pirated products, including pharmaceuticals, both domestically and internationally.

While the IAA welcomes it as a step in the right direction, particularly the proposal to establish a mandatory requirement for a track and trace system for pharmaceuticals and medical products, it feels its effectiveness has been limited.

"The plan does not go far enough and should have been stronger in endorsing the use of authentication technologies and methods - not just track and trace - for IP protection," said the organisation in a statement.

Track and trace can help to secure the supply chain from the infiltration of counterfeiting but it cannot in itself identify nor confirm whether products distributed beyond legitimate supply chains are genuine or not, it pointed out.

"The national plan to fight counterfeiting should include references and guidance on the means of authentication, because detecting fakes is a key part of any anti-counterfeiting strategy," said Jim Rittenburg, the IAA's chairman.

He pointed out that the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has been developing performance criteria for authentication tools used in anti-counterfeiting, and has said that "...track and trace technology when used alone is not considered to be an authentication solution."

ISO points to the current approach taken by governments with banknotes, which are all serialised for tracking purposes but also contain a multitude of overt and covert authentication features such as security threads, holographics, watermarks, microtext, security inks, invisible taggants, etc.

"We would like to see the IP Enforcement Coordinator look at the broader role of authentication technologies and programs for the next strategic plan," said Rittenburg.

Related articles:

Obama strategy on counterfeits calls for industry transparency

FDA publishes final guidance on serialisation

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