Is Blockchain ready to fight counterfeiting?

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The use of blockchain to create a European infrastructure for combating counterfeiting seems to be an important step to be taken.

Blockathon

During the upcoming EU Blockathon from 22 to 24 June software and website developers, designers and business strategists will jointly tackle counterfeiting. Loek Boortman, CTO of GS1 Netherlands, challenges 10 teams during this event to counterfeiting by applying the standards properly.

People live in global virtual communities, just one click away from buying a product and see an ever-increasing variety of products. The online world trusts that consumers get what they have bought, personal information is not misused and that they know who the product is and of course receive the original product that they have ordered.

Authentic or not

But unfortunately, consumers do not always know whether a product is authentic or not. In 2017, 10% of EU consumers (around 43 million citizens) were misled to purchase a fake product instead of a genuine one. More than 35% (about 150 million in total) wondered whether the product they had bought online was real or fake. In addition, the problem of counterfeiting is still growing. The amount is already around 338 billion euros.

EU wants to tackle fake products

The European Union naturally wants to combat fake products. After all, the protection of intellectual property rights is a cornerstone on which business is based. With the legal protection of the product and its brand, companies, customs authorities, law enforcement, judiciary, courts and various other enforcement authorities can build. The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) is an important player in this.

But it is not easy at the moment to follow, let alone check, any package and every shipment that enters the territory of the European Union. There are huge challenges, such as the enormous amount of goods being transported in small parcels, the bureaucracy and all the protocols and processes that exist in different countries. We are all dealing with the risks of counterfeiting and this is a concern for everyone, so we all have a stake in the game.

Could blockchain handle the challenge?

How can all those involved in a global chain process help combat counterfeiting in a smarter and more effective way? We need ways to communicate what is true (authentic) and what has actually happened in the entire supply chain: from manufacturer to consumer. A secure, collectively shared truth.

The goal is to link existing tracking solutions available on the market to databases via a blockchain solution. The idea is to develop an infrastructure where everyone (producers, consumers, transport services, etc.) can easily check the authenticity of each product. Could blockchain cope with the challenge and help build the next generation of anti-counterfeit infrastructure?

EUIPO challenges experts

EUIPO is determined to explore the potential of blockchain for interconnectivity systems and to ensure the security and immutability of data. They believe that a strong network alliance can be built to secure logistics, ensure the authenticity of goods and protect consumers by combating counterfeiting.

EUIPO and the European Commission invite the best and most pioneering teams to join to join the alliance against fake products and to co-create the next level of counterfeit infrastructure by working directly with manufacturers, logistics companies, customs, retailers and consumers. Loek Boortman, CTO of GS1 Netherlands will explain the importance of standardization during a masterclass and the role of standards to prevent counterfeiting in the logistics chain.

EU Blockathon Challenge 2018

It is with a Blockathon, EU Blockathon Challenge 2018 from 22 to 25 June 2018 that will be held in the heart of the European Union in Brussels. In co-creation, the assignment is the realization of a European blockchain infrastructure in the fight against counterfeiting. Specialists in legislation, IP rights, counterfeiting, track and trace, ecosystem dynamics, logistics and safety are brought together to help the 10 selected teams.

Teams are invited to work on one, two or all of the challenges during the event. In addressing these challenges, teams must always remember an important player in the chain: the owner of the real product and intellectual property, also known as the rights holder. Each challenge is highlighted from a different perspective and has the task of fighting forgeries. The different perspectives are:

Program teams will work on the spot with any specialist they think they need to achieve the best possible solutions and to investigate how blockchain technology can really make a difference and lead to the extinction of counterfeiting. Will they also be able to use the standards well?

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