Trademark protection by use of invisible markings
We are all aware of the fact that product piracy is a global economic threat, causing enormous damage by counterfeit products
The damage caused by counterfeit products amounts to EUR 7.9 billion in Germany alone, based upon a VDMA study of 2012 and the latest EU Commission’s statistics earmark the damage in the sectors of clothing, and other textile products with EUR 170 million, whereas China ranks top as countries of origin (80 %), followed by Turkey (6 %).
According to ITCF Institute for Textile Chemicals and Chemical Fibres of the German Institutes of Textile and Fibre Research, Denkendorf (D), to date, there is no practical method available that would technically guarantee trademark protection. Manufacturers and brand owners of textile products are seriously concerned. The necessity of protective measures is quite evident, not only from a economic viewpoint but also from safety aspects such as for Technical Textiles, because counterfeited products are running a great risk for the user or consumer and also endanger the image of the original producer. All in all, this results into a great deal of interest for the development of a process for the marking of textile materials regarding safe trademark protection.
For the time being, such a project is well underway, and jointly by ITCF Denkendorf and Fraunhofer IPA Institute for production techniques and automation, Stuttgart, resulting into transparent marking inks which are applied across large areas for safety markings on textile substrates and by applying inkjet processing. The security code, invisible to the human eye, can be detected by means of a tuned infrared sensor and converted into a visible security code.
The new security inks can be combined with decorative inkjet-textile colours and used in different inkjet printers of leading manufacturers. The process allows an application in both apparel textiles and Technical Textiles and in a single print process of highest quality. Other applications are possible such as for automotives by invisible marking of security and/or quality relevant vendor parts, such as safety belts or plastic parts.
In practice a simple handling of the measurement process in the routine application will be important. The new process enables customs authorities to reliably verify suspicious materials in view to their authenticity by using a simple infrared sensor. It is expected that the innovative process will gain broad market access.