∙TeMWIA     ∙ Overview     ∙The Risks     Common Solutions     ∙TeMWIA Solution     ∙Risk Management     ∙In Conclusion

Common Solutions

What are the solutions currently in use? How successful are they?

We look at the two most popular solutions.

We then look at how these solutions not only fail to work but are actually counter productive.

Finally, on the next page, we will describe our own proven and inexpensive system.

Enhanced Labels

A recent 'advanced technology' product has appeared on the market - labels printed with various complex patterns:

    - ultra-fine graphical elements

    - small complex arrangements of dots

    - 5 pixel micro-text fonts

    - structured halftones

    - etc.

We have seen such labels advertised with features that would put some paper currency designs to shame.

The Risks again with this is that the labels can still be copied. While it may discourage casual copying for low valued items, it cannot stop copying and a few extra cents will not put off a serious counterfeit operation.

Actually, there is no need for the fake copy to be precise. Even rough copies would generally suffice as the average purchaser cannot really tell what is and what is not a genuine label. Only after inspection with special tools and a comparison with the master design, can one determine whether a label is the real thing or not.

Such labels may assist in proving, after the event, that an item is a counterfeit, but there is no reliable way a purchaser can check authenticity before purchase.

Micro Text Example

Wine bottle label with micro text

Wine bottle label with micro text
Click on the image above to enlarge it.

Regular - Holograms

Holograms are currently the most popular form of security labelling.

How are they more secure than other labels? Some will say that they are more expensive to forge and will thus better discourage forgery. Others, in all innocence, will even claim that they cannot be copied, so they prove the item to be genuine.

Unfortunately, both those claims are in error.

The first claim sounds convincing until you ask the rather obvious question: "Will the loss of just one cent in profit per item stop a forger who is earning many dollars profit on each item?"

The obvious answer is a resounding 'no'.

As to the second claim, it is simply not true. All holograms can be copied at a relatively trivial cost - typically in the region of one cent.

Finding a company to print what the forger needs is obviously not too difficult.

Hologram Examples

Click on any image below to enlarge it.

Sample 'genuine-valid-original' hologram

Sample 'genuine-valid-original' hologram

Let us take a trip to where you will find hundreds of companies that will print for you any hologram you want at a price around 1 cent each. Click on the link and take a stroll. [alibaba]

Or just Google for "custom hologram printers" to find printers in the US, UK and the rest of the world who are capable of printing such labels.

Enhanced Holograms

More recently, recognizing the deficiencies of the original product, the hologram industry has itself come up with even more sophisticated holograms, such as moving 3-D images that can show four different images depending on how you rotate it.

While they look impressive, their only real 'advantage' is that they cost more and are thus deemed to be a greater deterrent.

Holograms seem to be the current favourite for attaching to high risk articles. They give the appearance of 'something special', so the purchaser has a higher level of confidence in it being original.

There is no denying that it has some deterrent value, as it adds a cent or two to the cost of a forgery. This generally discourages 'opportunistic' forgery, but it certainly cannot stop it or even discourage it for higher valued items.

If the manufacturer can afford to put a hologram on every packet then so can the forger! He is likely to earn more per item than the genuine manufacturer!

Authentication of a Handbag!
Link to Forum

The above link is worth a read to highlight the futility of using holograms to prove authenticity.

One of the most amusing quotes there:

It's fake. A lot of the fake B FENDI's look pretty authentic to the untrained eye. .... But the hologram indicates that it's 100% fake.

All Holograms

The worst feature of the whole hologram industry is that the user is actually the weakest link in the whole chain.

The purchaser, who is the one making the decision whether to buy or not, has no real way of knowing whether the hologram in his hand is real or not.

Even a bad copy will look genuine to someone who has not been trained to recognise a forgery. After all, it is a hologram!

The whole concept is fundamentally flawed. Even an expert cannot tell a genuine hologram from a forgery without first being given a known genuine label so he can compare good with bad.

The poor punter who is trying to determine whether an article is genuine or not really has nothing to help him.

While it may be a bit unfair to call holograms smoke and mirrors, in reality they can at best discourage forgeries. They cannot in any way stop forgeries. If there is money to be made, then the cost of sourcing a suitable hologram will not deter the forger.

For a bit of light relief have a look at the forum discussion on the right.

You will discover that you need to go and get a trained eye from somewhere before you buy a Fendi handbag and that a Hologram can't prove an item genuine but it can prove it's 100% fake!

In truth the statement is 100% correct. See sidebar on the right as to what professionals have to say.

Do Holograms Work?

It is difficult to find unbiased comment on this subject. A Google search will mainly return articles from the printers and suppliers of holograms.

A refreshingly honest appraisal can be found in a article:
Fake Holograms a 3-D Crime Wave

It was written in 2007 and since then the situation has obviously got very much worse - today the quality of forged holograms is very much better and are obtainable much easier and cheaper then ever before.

Click here to view some interesting and revealing quotes from that article.

The Dangers of Holograms and Enhanced Labels

The real facts: All Holograms and Enhanced Labels can be copied!   Like any other printed label!

The forger just goes to a printer and pays around a cent per label. On a profit of $500 or even $100 or even $1, will the cost of an additional cent really put off a forger?

If that was the only problem, then at least Holograms and Enhanced Labels would be no worse than a simple label.

Unfortunately, in place of providing protection, Holograms used as security seals are positively dangerous!

Not only can holograms not stop forgeries, they can, and actually do, help the forger in passing off his counterfeit goods!

Over the years, to raise confidence and thus encourage use of Credit Cards, the Banks have sold Holograms to the public as proof that the card is genuine, knowing full well that in reality they prove nothing of the sort.

The Banks have no problem with that. Their vast profits from the use of genuine credit cards more than compensates for their losses due to fraud. The net result of this is that the general public believes that anything with a Hologram is guaranteed to be genuine.

Where does that leave product security? In our opinion, very much worse off than without a Hologram!

The use of Holograms just strengthens the hand of the forger!

As long as he uses a hologram that is a near match to the original, a forger wins hands-down! The very tool that is being sold as an aid to stop forgers, actually makes forgery easier and more profitable.

The deception can be kept running for much longer, as the public simply assumes: This product has a hologram - It must be genuine!

The forger does not even have to exactly match the original. Something that looks like the original will be accepted as real, as a purchaser has no way of knowing what a genuine hologram actually looks like. Even when laid side by side he will not be able to differentiate - they both look equally 'fancy'.

This is the same issue as with regular packaging - can the consumer actually know what is and what is not genuine packaging? As long as it is a reasonably good copy it will be accepted. Manufacturers frequently change their packaging. Does the public stop buying the product fearing a forgery?

Even with banknotes, used daily, very few people can actually spot a fake. All the fancy markings are there purely for the benefit of the professionals. They do not eliminate the risk faced by the average man in the street.

See the very interesting article on the right sidebar which should bring home the truth about hologram use.

The conclusion we must reach is that Holograms are not only ineffective, but rather they are counter-productive. Without a Hologram, a purchaser is at least forced to take a critical look at what he is buying and determine for himself what are the risks of the item being counterfeit - taking into account price, location and packaging - rather than being lulled into a false sense of security by a fake hologram.

Our conclusion: Holograms are dangerous! They teach the public to trust holograms, making it much easier for a forger to pass-off his goods as the real thing.

Nokia No Longer Bothering With Holograms
Which is the fake battery?
Click on the image above to enlarge it.
Link to Nokia Hologram blog

The image above shows two Nokia batteries - one with and one without at Hologram.

Can you tell which is genuine? Both? Neither? We don't know either!

The blog first bemoans the fact that Nokia no longer put Holograms on their replacement batteries.

But then it comes up with the most startling statement:

"In fact, the spare fakes currently being sold still have (fake) holograms, which is a huge ironic twist on the original concept of this security feature!

Maybe Nokia merely realised that the fake holograms were now so good that it wasn't worth persisting with the idea?"

The author is on the right track. Nokia realised that adding a Hologram was just playing into the hands of the forgers.

Better to have no Hologram and then let the purchaser decide, based on facts such as the reputation of the seller and the price, whether what was being offered was genuine or not.