Industry experts discuss new smartphone authentication technology to protect brands.

With drug counterfeiting occurring at an alarming rate, increasing three percent per year according to the Brand Protection and Product Traceability Market Research report produced by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, pharmaceutical companies are faced with the challenge of protecting their brands and their customers.

Addressing this threat, Document Security Services (DSS), a developer of anti-fraud technologies for both digital and printed information, has developed a smartphone scanning technology, which is marketed in partnership with Sun Chemical, a leading producer of printing inks, coatings and pigments.

Jim Reiman, Director of Sales for Security at Sun Chemical, and Mike Tobin, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at DSS, will host an education session at the Innovation Stage at Healthcare Packaging EXPO. During that time, they will share their thoughts on how big data will become the cornerstone in the fight against counterfeit products.

Reiman and Tobin participated in a Q&A with PMMI. Their edited responses are below. 

How have the threats to brand protection changed over the past few years?


As counterfeiting methods continue to advance far beyond where they were just a few years ago, it is increasingly difficult to discern whether a product is counterfeit. As a result, brand owners are facing more authenticity issues than ever before and need to take steps to protect consumers. In the past, brand owners might distribute artwork to packaging companies for bids on production. Now they have to be much more careful about keeping these materials under wraps. Additionally, they hire companies to scan the market for potential leaks or counterfeits. OEMs need to take protective measures and stay ahead of counterfeiters. To tackle this issue, we’re putting better tools like smartphone authentication in the hands of brand owners and consumers.


The advancement in counterfeiting can be largely attributed to production technology becoming better, much cheaper, and much more accessible. Scanners, printers, and even 3D printers have seen significant improvements, allowing counterfeiters to make very realistic fake products undetectable to average customers. Companies can potentially lose hundreds of millions of dollars each year, so brand owners can no longer afford to ignore the issue.

What are the most common threats that brands overlook?


Our customers are typically either proactive with anti-counterfeiting measures, or they are already being counterfeited and need to implement a solution quickly. Most companies fall into the latter category and aren’t aware of the issue until they receive customer complaints or warranty frauds. 


Companies are also often unaware of the scope of the counterfeiting problem. They don’t know the identity of the counterfeiters, where the fake product was released into the market and whether the problem is regional or global.

Give us an example of a proactive measure brands can take to anticipate and overcome these threats.


Our smartphone authentication software technology adds a secure mark, which is printed on packaging or on the product itself. Using a smartphone application, brand managers, retailers, supply chain personnel, law enforcement, even consumers can authenticate the product quickly and easily. This allows the brand owner to monitor their product’s path through the marketplace and identify where counterfeit product appears in the market. That’s where this idea of big data comes into play.


The complexity of supply chains and global distribution creates a massive vulnerability that criminals are exploiting. To protect themselves, brands have to collect more data on what is happening in the field.  Doing this could require a lot of new employees, which isn’t scalable or cost effective. But, with the ubiquity of smartphones, we can now empower anyone in the supply chain—even consumers—to generate the data that will help identify where counterfeit products are showing up. By also providing different versions of coded marks to specific attributes, say an intended product destination, we can start to identify where holes exist in the supply chains and even where nefarious product is entering. We want to provide brands with the tools and data to proactively fight this scourge of counterfeiting.  

Reiman’s and Tobin’s presentation, “Big Data Takes Intellectual Property Strategies from Reactive to Predictive,” takes place at the Innovation Stage Booth #N-601 on Monday, Sept. 25 from 1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Free for attendees, the Innovation Stage offers 30-minute seminars by Healthcare Packaging EXPO exhibitors covering a range of cutting-edge technology breakthroughs. Learn more details about the session and add the presentation to your personal show schedule here, and discover more about the educational programming available here.

About Healthcare Packaging EXPO

Healthcare Packaging EXPO (Sept. 25-27; Las Vegas Convention Center), produced by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, will address solutions to pharmaceutical industry challenges like drug counterfeiting and brand protection. Co-located with PMMI’s annual PACK EXPO Las Vegas, Healthcare Packaging EXPO 2017 is the successor to the most comprehensive pharma event in years and provides a premier opportunity for industry leaders to witness trend-driven technology and design innovation first-hand within the pharmaceutical, biologics, nutraceutical, and medical device industries. The combined event will welcome 2,000 exhibitors and 30,000 attendees.

To register for Healthcare Packaging EXPO, visit

About PMMI

PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, represents more than 800 North American manufacturers and suppliers of equipment, components, and materials as well as providers of related equipment and services to the packaging and processing industry.

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