Nanotech tracker to change how the industry tackles counterfeit goods

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Nanotech tracker to change how the industry tackles counterfeit goods

Related tags Retailing

Sydney-based YPB Group has bought tracer patents developed by China's Dalian Maritime University to pair with its own scanners to determine counterfeit goods.

The Australian company claims the cheap tool will change how the industry will tackle fake goods from China.

The nanotech tracer is invisible to the naked eye and can only be read by a YPB-developed scanner that costs about $35. The material can be applied to any product and costs less than 50¢. 

According to John Houston, chief executive YPB Group; "Only two people in the world know the tracer formula." 

PB Group also acquired Brand Reporter, a US-based start-up that developed a platform for companies to identify and track counterfeit products in the supply chain and at retail points.  

"The tracer can be put into fibres, plastics and inks to determine a product's authenticity​," Mr Houston said.

Counterfeiting is a widespread issue. Particularly in cosmetics, where one of Australia’s biggest retailers Target found itself caught up in a court battle with Estee Lauder back in 2012 after the brand claimed it had been selling counterfeit versions of MAC products.

Target pays out to MAC for counterfeit versions

After a lengthy battle, the Federal Court ordered the global retail giant to pay $1 million in compensation to the colour cosmetics brand in January 2014.

The courts ruled that in addition to the payment the amount agreed to cover damages, profits, interest and costs, the retail giant would also run corrective advertising on the front page of its catalogue, and for a 30-day period on its' website home page and cosmetics pages, Facebook page and in-store signage.

Target, which is owned by Perth-based conglomerate Wesfarmers, was also ordered to run corrective advertising to state that it could not prove that its MAC range was not fake.

Despite ruling Target says it does 'not admit guilt'

At the time of the ruling, Jim Cooper, Target's general manager of corporate affairs said the retailer did not admit guilt or liability.

"The testing required to prove if the products were authentic would have been both costly and time-consuming, and so we have taken the commercially prudent decision to settle​.”

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