In the realm of product security, the use of anti-counterfeit labels emerges as a pivotal strategy. These specialized adhesive tags, designed for both visible deterrence and covert authentication, play a crucial role in safeguarding products across industries. This article delves into the 2 primary families of anti-counterfeit labels: those added directly to the product and those embedded within the product branded label. Exploring the advantages and disadvantages of each, it navigates the intricate landscape of overt and covert security features. Additionally, it introduces Cryptoglyph technology as a powerful enhancement, which elevates the effectiveness of anti-counterfeit labels and fortifies brand protection.


Anti-counterfeit labels : 2 families


Specific security labels added to the product

A security label is a broad term referring to an adhesive tag specifically designed to enhance the safety of the object or product it is stuck on.


Security labels serve as an initial and adaptable measure to safeguard a particular product or brand. They function as a visible deterrent, a means of tagging, tracking, and tracing an object’s location, preventing counterfeiting, and providing visual confirmation if the label (and consequently the object) has been tampered with.


In the realm of labeling systems, the term “security label” is particularly applied to labels that offer evidence of tampering (tamper-evident tags), although they may fulfill additional security roles.


Products branded labels that feature a security solution

It is also possible to add an anti-copying solution directly onto a product branded label. The investment in that measure is quite reasonable, and the labels integrate into the digital printing process itself. They are used on many different products such as classified documents, vehicles, medicinal products, lubricants, tobacco products and many more.


Using modern digital printing technologies to incorporate security and anti-counterfeiting features into the packaging and label design from the outset can significantly enhance a brand owner’s assurance that their products are protected from theft and safeguarded against damage to their reputation.


Choosing the most suitable method depends on factors such as the nature of the product, the desired level of safety, cost considerations, and the existing manufacturing and packaging processes. Many companies opt for a combination of solutions to create a multi-layered security approach.


What features are used to secure labels?

Overt features

Overt technologies are visible technologies. They are visible and easily detectable characteristics designed to help consumers, inspectors, and authorities identify genuine products from fake ones. Most of the time, the user is expected to have a certain skillset in order to be able to assess whether a product is genuine or not by analysing the feature. Here are some examples of overt features:


  • Holograms: visually striking feature difficult to reproduce without specialised equipment.
  • OVI (Optically Variable Ink): change color when viewed from different angles.
  • Watermarks: visible when held up to light.
  • Unique and intricate branding or logos: difficult to replicate accurately.
  • QR codes: can easily be scanned to verify authenticity.


Covert features

Covert technologies, on the other hand, are invisible technologies. They are generally

more secure because they are concealed or hidden features that are not immediately visible to the naked eye. These measures are designed to be detectable only by using specific tools or methods, making them more challenging for imitators to replicate. Covert features include :


  • Special inks: visible under specific conditions, such as exposure to UV light.
  • Cryptoglyph: microscopic patterns incorporated into printed or engraved surfaces.
  • Watermarks: hidden within the product or packaging.
  • Taggants: microscopic particles or chemical markers.
  • Laser Marking: microscopic laser markings revealed with the use of lasers.



Pros and cons of specific security labels



Security labels offer a robust solution to combat counterfeiting and safeguard products across industries. They serve as a visible deterrent, making it challenging for pirates to replicate products. Authentication is a key advantage, providing consumers and stakeholders with a tangible means of verifying product genuineness. Tamper-evident aspects in anti-counterfeit tags quickly signal potential interference during transit or on retail shelves, enhancing product safety.


Brand protection is a critical aspect, ensuring that brands maintain trust and credibility in the marketplace. Traceability and tracking features, such as serial numbers and QR codes, enable companies to monitor products throughout the supply chain, improving logistics and inventory management. Security labels instill consumer confidence, offering peace of mind during purchases. Regulatory compliance is facilitated, especially in industries with stringent authentication requirements. The quick visual verification provided by safety labels, without specialized equipment, adds to their practicality. Supply chain security benefits from the prevention of copying and the assurance of product authenticity.


Customisation allows brands to integrate safety measures seamlessly into their overall branding strategy. Integration with digital technologies, such as QR codes and RFID, enhances authentication through smartphones and online platforms. Despite the initial investment, anti-counterfeit labels are considered cost-effective compared to potential financial losses resulting from replicating or tampering.




While security labels offer various benefits, they also come with certain disadvantages and challenges. First of all, overt technologies are very difficult to abandon after they are adopted, as the consumer expects to find them, and the verification of visible technologies relies entirely on user skills, which are extremely variable. Also, integrating and managing security tags may introduce complexity into existing manufacturing and labeling processes. There is a risk of theft which cannot be denied. Companies may need to invest in training and infrastructure to ensure proper implementation.


Overreliance on anti-counterfeit labels may create a false sense of security. Some labels can be replicated or tampered with by sophisticated counterfeiters, leading to a potential breach in product integrity. On top of that, as technology evolves, safety tags may become obsolete or less effective against newer replicating methods.  Many security labels use specialised materials or coatings that may not be environmentally friendly. The disposal of products with such labels can contribute to environmental concerns. Moreover, certain packaging materials or designs may not be compatible with security labels, requiring companies to adapt their packaging choices to accommodate these characteristics.


Security labels, especially those with overt anti-counterfeit features, may alter the visual appeal of the product packaging. Balancing security needs with aesthetic considerations is crucial.



Pros and cons of adding security directly in the product branded label



Integrating safety features directly into the product branded label offers a multifaceted approach to safeguarding products and bolstering brand integrity. This strategy presents numerous advantages, starting with the creation of an integrated protective layer within the tag itself.


Maintaining brand consistency is a crucial aspect, with integrated security seamlessly aligning with the brand‘s visual identity. The cost-effective implementation of safety features directly into the label streamlines manufacturing processes and reduces the need for additional components.Customisation possibilities abound, allowing for the creation of unique security elements that complement the brand‘s aesthetics. This customisation enhances both security and visual appeal, contributing to a positive consumer perception.


The adaptability of this approach to different products and packaging sizes ensures its applicability across various industries. From a supply chain perspective, integrating security into the tag facilitates seamless incorporation into manufacturing, distribution, and retail processes, enhancing overall supply chain safety. In essence, embedding security into the product branded label not only fortifies product protection but also reinforces brand trust and identity throughout the product‘s lifecycle.


Integrating security features directly into product branded labels presents a strategy laden with advantages but is not without its challenges. While this approach fortifies product protection and brand integrity, certain drawbacks must be considered.


The complex manufacturing process is a notable challenge, particularly when incorporating sophisticated security technologies. This complexity may necessitate specialized equipment and expertise, contributing to increased production costs. One exception would be Cryptoglyph: it is easy to integrate as it is distributed as a picture to integrate into the artwork. The financial aspect is further impacted by the potentially higher costs associated with advanced safety materials and technologies.


Especially for over features, technological obsolescence is a concern, as rapid advancements may render integrated features outdated. Keeping pace with the latest anti-replicate innovations might require frequent updates, potentially adding to the costs and development timelines. Customization options for the label‘s aesthetic design may be limited, striking a balance between safety and visual appeal can be challenging. Adaptability challenges arise for products with diverse packaging materials or shapes, as certain security details may not seamlessly integrate. Environmental impact is a consideration, particularly concerning non-biodegradable materials used in some security technologies.


Supply chain integration can be intricate, as different stakeholders may possess varying capabilities to handle or interpret integrated security features. Consumer resistance may also emerge if certain security measures alter the appearance of the tag or packaging. Maintenance challenges arise over time, demanding ongoing efforts to ensure the continued effectiveness of integrated anti-counterfeit features. In navigating these challenges, businesses must carefully weigh the benefits of heightened security and brand protection against potential complexities, considering industry regulations, consumer preferences, and the specific needs of the product.


What if the anti-counterfeit specific label is a must?


Depending on various factors, such as the nature of the product, industry regulations, and the potential risks associated with reproducing or tampering, a specific security label might be necessary. However, to make sure your products are really secure, Cryptoglyph can still be added on top of the anti-counterfeit specific label.


Cryptoglyph technology, when added to anti-counterfeit labels, elevates their security features by introducing covert authentication. This microscopic and intricate pattern, invisible to the naked eye, poses a significant challenge to copyers. Its sophisticated nature requires specialised tools or devices for detection, acting as a deterrent for unauthorised replication. Beyond its role in authentication, Cryptoglyph can serve as a tamper-evident feature, providing visual cues in case of interference with the label.


The integration of Cryptoglyph enhances brand protection by reducing the risk of copying and fostering confidence in the authenticity of labeled products. It is particularly valuable in industries with stringent regulations, ensuring compliance with safety standards. Versatile in application, Cryptoglyph can be seamlessly incorporated into various anti-counterfeit label designs, contributing to the overall effectiveness of security measures.



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