Labels Help Supplier Fight Counterfeiters, Save Profits | Manufacturing

3/27/2020 RRD

Labels Help Supplier Fight Counterfeiters, Save Profits | Manufacturing

Automotive parts supplier uses security features added to labels to deter counterfeiters  


An automotive parts supplier lost significant profits annually due to the growing presence of counterfeit parts in the marketplace. It proved difficult to recognize the difference between an authentic part and it’s counterfeit duplicate based on the way the part was packaged as it made its way through customs. 

When counterfeit parts fail — because they are substandard — an automaker can lose in warranty dollars, service costs, and customer trust. In addition to these losses, the supplier’s primary concern was that counterfeiters are quick, particularly when replicating security features. Only forensic features offered the client the ability to offer a security that is virtually undetectable out in the field. 


In discussing the scope of the issue, and how parts are packaged and labeled, RRD determined a series of overt and covert security features should be incorporated into the label, including a forensic covert feature that would be exclusive to the supplier. 

Adding overt and covert security features serve to help reduce the number of counterfeiters that attempt to manufacture bogus parts due to the fact that they cannot reproduce the product label. In effect, they will move to an easier target. These security features are also the first lines of defense for customs inspectors, helping them determine if a shipment of parts is authentic. 

  • Overt features include a microline, thermochromic ink, phantom images, holograms, and hot or cold foil. 
  • Covert features include different kinds of fluorescent inks, special papers, micro fibers, and taggants.
  • Forensic covert features are those that can’t be seen and require a special device to authenticate the validity of the product. 

Security features can also be built into the material itself (tamper-evident, destructible materials, controlled label stock) or into a ribbon used to add data to the label.


RRD identified six label sizes to produce and shipped these labels via an online order tool which reports and tracks who is ordering the labels so the client can compare label usage to parts usage.

The end result of any type of brand protection program is reduced counterfeit parts, lowering costs associated with bogus products breaking down. In addition, reducing the abundance of counterfeit parts in the mainstream will drive revenue increases for genuine parts.


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