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Use the cloud to combat counterfeit goods, and impact the bottom line


16C.Heather-Tendo Communications SF-STOLL 2012.jpgHow can IT deliver value to the business? That’s a perennial topic here on the blog and in the Discover Performance ezine. I recently came across an example of an IT solution that addresses a serious and growing concern for businesses: counterfeit goods.


If you haven’t read much lately about counterfeiting, you might dismiss it as a problem that mainly affects the makers of luxury watches and handbags. But counterfeit goods have infiltrated nearly all aspects of commerce—medicine, auto parts, electronics and more. The issue goes beyond potential loss in profits (although that loss is hefty: counterfeiting is expected to have a $1.7 trillion impact by 2015). Counterfeiting not only erodes customer trust, it can also have fatal consequences. To take just one example, according to the International Policy Network, approximately 700,000 people die each year from counterfeit malaria and tuberculosis drugs alone.


With a problem this big, manufacturers have tried to develop anti-counterfeiting measures to protect their goods (and their consumers). But most tactics are easily copied by the counterfeiters, and it’s getting increasingly hard to tell the real from the fake.


This is where IT can make an impact. HP developed a service using cloud and mobile technology that makes it easy to tell instantly prior to purchase whether goods are authentic. For businesses, the HP Global Product Authentication Service can have real bottom line results, not only by uncovering counterfeit products, but also by reassuring customers that they’re buying the genuine article.


HP has used the service itself to combat counterfeiting of its printer ink cartridges. The way it works is simple: a customer wanting to know if a product is genuine scans a QR code on the product’s packaging while inside a store. That code is checked against authentic codes stored in HP’s secure cloud, and an immediate response is returned to the customer.


The technology, developed in conjunction with HP Labs, gives customers the power to distinguish real from fake. It also gives manufacturers a thorough picture of counterfeiting threats via real-time business intelligence dashboards showing where fake goods have been found and when.


There’s more information in this video and at


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About the Author


I have been a writer/editor in the technology field for several years.

Steve Simske

Counterfeiting is a huge slice of overall worldwide illicit trade. Please see for more on this larger problem. Illicit trade funds terrorism and pejoratively affects a variety of human rights. When counterfeit products are purchased, counterfeit regimes are supported, worker rights are undermined, and money laundering is empowered.


Steve, thanks so much for the additional information and link. In researching this article I was stunned to discover how large the problem is and how it has far-reaching negative effects. Thanks for reading, Heather


is a good article


@jnetnon, Thanks for reading! Heather

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