Alternative Text
Security & Brand Protection article· 10 min

June 06, 2021

Conterfeit: is your business well equipped to protect brands?

In the battle against fake goods, it falls to print providers and converters to help ensure that brands can stay a step ahead of the threat with a solution that combines industry-leading security features on one press, in one pass.


In the battle against fake goods, it falls to print providers and converters to help ensure that brands can stay a step ahead of the threat with a solution that combines industry-leading security features on one press, in one pass. 

While the business of counterfeiting may be as old as business itself, the scale and scope of it today is a truly modern phenomenon. Fuelled by the dramatic rise of e-commerce, counterfeiters are infiltrating new marketplaces at record pace, creating hard-to-spot imitations sold on fake websites, reputed e-commerce channels and social media. No longer confined to shady markets and street corners, counterfeiters have the world at their fingertips. 

And, with every successful security breach, they get better and bolder. By 2022, counterfeiting is projected to cost the global economy US$4.2 trillion.1  In context, that’s a 763 percent increase on the first reported estimate of US$5.5 billion in 1982. 2

Covid-19 accelerated what was an already alarming trend. As entire countries locked down and global supply chains were uprooted, counterfeiters were able to find and fill critical gaps. 

In the first week of March 2020 alone, Interpol seized 4.4 million units of illicit pharmaceuticals.3 An already lucrative market for forgeries, piracy and product diversion exploded ⁠— and the demand for robust, adaptive security solutions has become more urgent and acute than ever. 

“Two-thirds of consumers who have unintentionally purchased counterfeit goods have lost trust in brands.” 4

For brands operating in this new reality, maintaining consumer trust has become more complex and challenging. In order to survive, let alone thrive, brands must instil confidence, build loyalty and ensure customer safety. Security breaches cost brands through the loss of product revenue and potential investigations and litigation, but they also pose serious threats to intellectual property and brand reputation. Two-thirds of consumers who have unintentionally purchased counterfeit goods have lost trust in brands. 5

When combined with the health and safety implications of a market full of counterfeit medical supplies, automotive parts, toys and cosmetics, it’s unsurprising that fighting the fakes is now a critical priority for brand owners. Today, the brand protection market is worth US$29.5 billion and this is only set to increase as customers seek out more complex, sophisticated security solutions to protect product authenticity and brand reputation. 6 As copycats continue to hone their techniques, hot on the heels of the latest security technologies, brands are seeking new solutions to stay secure.

Put simply, brands are looking to take back control of their products, reputation and revenues — and they need print providers and converters with the right technology in place to help them. 

“It was a necessity to protect our product”

As the stakes get higher and brands battle to reduce corporate financial losses, intellectual property violations, product diversion, counterfeiting and reputation loss, an advanced digital print security technology is no longer just a convenient add-on — it’s an outright necessity.

For Kirk Baumann, President of Baumann Wisconsin Ginseng, digital security provided the only viable solution. After moving into a new, lucrative market in China, the brand faced increasing levels of counterfeit competition. “We get 25% more for our product from Wisconsin, so there’s great incentive for other companies to copy our product if they can. Consumers were concerned about how to identify and make sure they were getting the product they’re paying a lot of money for.”

Working with Roaster, and powered by HP Indigo 20000 Digital Press, Baumann Farms now incorporates micro focus variable codes, a GPAS-based system, on every package. Each short-run digitally customized bag now features a unique QR code and guilloche symbol, so consumers can verify product authenticity with their smartphones within seconds. “It was a necessity to protect our product,” he says. 

A secure future 

Brand protection has shifted focus from detection at the end-point, to prevention at the source. Optical security features that can easily be replicated are no longer enough. A new approach encourages interactions with customers, with digital solutions that incorporate variable data and real-time traceability, enabling consumers, authorities and brand owners to scrutinize product authenticity at every stage of the production line. 

But in order to outmanoeuvre counterfeiters and stay ahead of the next threat, the security solution needs to be multi-layered, adaptive and too complex to replicate. Brands are seeking solutions that combine overt technologies which consumers can distinguish themselves, such as watermarks and holograms, with covert and forensic creatures, like track-and-trace and intelligent inks. For a traditional printing press, this requires multiple passes through multiple devices. But with HP Indigo Secure, it’s possible to print a never seen before defensive armour on one press, in one pass. 

New opportunities with HP Indigo

Print providers that can offer digital security services and solutions that protect and guard brand interests more effectively are gaining a competitive edge. Empowered by HP Indigo Secure capabilities, print providers across the globe are tapping into high value opportunities of a booming brand protection market.

For Nosco, a leading pharmaceutical packaging provider, HP Indigo’s security solution has enabled them to leverage the growth of the brand protection industry to drive company profit. “At Nosco, we’ve been able to develop a whole security business surrounding HP Indigo technology”, says Craig Curren, President of Nosco. With data variable printing and invisible inks, their clients can now track products across the supply chain, outmanoeuvring sophisticated counterfeits and combatting product diversions, which are notorious in the industry.

“By implementing all three platforms of digital labels, cartons and flex packs, we’ve really been able to grow”, he adds. The company now services 250 clients per month, printing over two billion labels.

An adaptive security shield on one press, in one pass

As one of the world’s leading digital printing companies, HP Indigo is at the forefront of digital print security. The firm has developed a continuously evolving set of solutions for security printing and brand protection, based on HP Indigo LEP technology and supported by powerful global alliances.

Proven in the toughest environments, HP Indigo offers print providers and converters the ability to mix and match a wide range of innovative and advanced security elements and designs that are easy to print and hard to copy. Their solutions enable the application of multiple layers of overt, semi-covert and covert security elements to any document, label or package on one pass, in one press.

Counterfeiting can’t be stopped altogether, but with the right digital security solution, it can be curbed. As technology and counterfeiting practices advance, print providers and converters play a critical line of defence against security breaches — and those who harness the latest adaptive digital security solutions will be best prepared for the fight.

Learn more about how HP Indigo Secure works and download the eBook


1. The Economic Impacts of Counterfeiting and Piracy, ICC
2. The Future of Security Printing to 2024, Smithers Pira
3. Coronavirus sparks a new trend in counterfeit medical items, Interpol
4. Counterfeit are endemic, and it’s damaging brand value, Incopro
5. Ibid
6. The Future of Security Printing to 2024, Smithers Pira