U.S. policy makers have missed a golden opportunity to make authentication technologies mandatory for intellectual property (IP) anti-counterfeiting strategies, says the International Authentication Association (IAA).

Although the newly published U.S. Joint Strategic Plan on IP Enforcement is a welcomed step in the right direction, the IAA 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.

Although the plan indicates that track and trace ‘allows for authentication of the product’, in reality such systems do not authenticate products.

The IAA, which represents many of the world’s leading brand owners and suppliers of authentication technologies, says that 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.

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.

The most effective strategies for combating counterfeiting include the use of overt and covert authentication technologies and programs – something which the Joint Strategic Plan on IP Enforcement should have acknowledged and supported.

IAA chairman Jim Rittenburg said the plan is definitely a step in the right direction but track and trace is not a panacea – a position supported in the Performance of Authentication Solutions circulated to ISO members, which states ‘...track and trace technology when used alone is not considered to be an authentication solution’. 

This is also highlighted in the approach that governments take to protecting their money. 

Although banknotes are all serialized for tracking purposes they also contain a multitude of overt and covert authentication features such as security threads, holographics, watermarks, micro text, security inks and invisible taggants.

“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. 

“So, the plan from Victoria Espinel, the U.S. Government’s IP Enforcement Coordinator, is not only a missed chance to highlight the importance of authentication technologies but a misguided one in its belief that track and trace allows for authentication.

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

“We would also encourage those involved in authentication to provide her with information which shows the full spectrum of authentication and global experiences.”

The International Authentication Association is a global organization set up to lead the fight against counterfeits and represents many of the world’s leading brand owners and suppliers of authentication technologies. For more information about the IAA, visit http://www.internationalauthenticationassociation.org