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Counterfeiting menace – 1

Counterfeiting menace 
on printed documents
Written by : N.R. Jayaraman

This article spread over to three or four parts discuss the
 nature of security features found on the security documents
 and other commercial documents of various kinds. 


It is universally accepted fact that the problem of counterfeiting documents is almost as old as the history of documents themselves. This resulted people to authenticate the documents by putting simple signatures on the documents or to put some personalized seals and marks. The emergence of newer technologies helped the counterfeiters to duplicate the documents with the use of computers and scanners which scompelled the printing industry to continue  develop new means to authenticate documents and to prevent alteration of valuable data on the documents.
Take the case of Bank notes and Currencies issued by several countries. The first of the security document in the form of Currency notes was reportedly introduced by the Chinese. Subsequently other countries issued several other security documents such as stamps, passports and postal stationery including that of currency notes. It is quite possible that such security instruments may have been issued under different other names in or around the same period. Much details are however not available since achieving of records was poor those days. One of the earliest mention of one of the security document i.e passport dates back to 450 BC. Ever since security documents such as Banknotes and Currencies were issued, continuous threat has been faced from the counterfeiters who counterfeited the instruments for their financial gains. While counterfeiting of those documents were done in the early stage by individuals and groups for monetary gains, the enemy nations through terrorist activities resorted to counterfeiting the instruments to destabilize the economy of the growing nations.
Besides counterfeiting  the currencies and bank notes which were done for above reasons the counterfeiting or forging of security documents such as passports, travel documents, bonds and licenses were usually done by petty or professional criminals in order to escape the actions of law agencies and or for employment activities. The other documents that face counterfeiting problems in several countries  are Share certificate, Examination certificates, Title deeds, Bonds, Transport tickets, Event tickets, Ballot papers, Tax Stamps, Visas etc.
In the same manner counterfeiting of the brand protection labels of several products are got done by the fake manufacturers of the products. Brand protection labels of several products are particularly at risk. Product pirates destroy not only  several millions of revenues of brand manufacturers, but also undermine the manufacturers reputation causing irreparable damage. This is the real menace faced by the consumer products, foremost amongst them being pharmaceutical and costly spare parts industry whose fake products display labels and contents of packing very similar to the genuine ones.  Counterfeit drugs are growing concern for pharmaceutical companies, suppliers, and consumers. Most of the time the customer fail to identify the fake products since the counterfeited brand protection labels and the display print materials look alike to the genuine product labels and print material thus concealing the true nature of the fake products inside. Therefore the bogus manufacturers depend heavily on the ability of the printers to print or  duplicate print material very similar to that of the genuine ones. The security feature plays important role in the print formats to check the menace of counterfeiting.
The security features on the print material of above two groups differ in basic applications even though some of the brand protection labels or print material for the high value consumer products too have security features something similar to the security features found on the security documents.  All the features applied on the Security documents are not incorporated in the case of brand protection cartons and labels produced for the mass selling unique consumer products, spare parts and Pharmaceutical product (labels) industries. What are the general security features found acceptable for the security documents such as Bank Notes, Currencies, Postal stationery, Stamps, Passports, Travel documents, Bonds and Licenses and other brand protection product labels?

………… be continued

About The Author


Retired Govt of India Official. My hobby is to write articles that range from Printing technologies to Spiritual.

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